MONTCLAIR, NJ - A pair of first-half goals paved the way for Hartford Athletic gaining a 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls II at MSU Soccer Park Friday night.
In blustery conditions at kickoff, it would be Hartford scoring the game's first goal in the 13th minute. Gabriel Torres created space to cross and his well-placed delivery found Danny Berrera for a first-time finish at the near post to put the visitors ahead, 1-0.
Meanwhile, the home side would threaten to equalize but wound up squandering scoring chances while errant turnovers allowed the Hartford defense to neutralize any attack with relative ease. The Red Bulls finally settled down and began to break through, But Jake LaCava's chance was all for naught, as his shot drifted wide to his left.
And they would pay dearly for those missed chances. For on the 37th minute, Walmer Martinez found Juan Carlos Obregon wide open, and he cooly tapped home the close-range goal to put the visitors up, 2-0.
The Red Bulls would press to get back into the game and in the 68th minute, their efforts would be awarded as Jeremy Rafanello led a counterattack and found Jake LaCava who scored his first goal of the season to cut the Athletic's lead in half, 2-1.
The Athletic restored its two-goal cushion when Arthur Rogers scored in the 85th minute as his corner kick eluded his onrushing teammates as well as the New York defense, and found its way into the right corner of the net.
The goal would be huge for the Athletic for in the 90th minute, the Red Bulls earned a penalty kick, which Mandela Egbo converted to bring them back within one, 3-2.
However the Red Bulls would get no closer as Hartford's defense would stifle any attack they would muster to seal the win and all three points for the visitors, giving their supporters who made the short trip south to Montclair a very happy trip back home.
With the exception of Jake LaCava and Omar Sowe, the entire team is made up of new players, some of them signed just days before the season even began. Because of this, they looked like a team that was roughly getting to know each other on the pitch. The talent is indeed there, but expect growing pains as the season rolls on.
New York Red Bulls II: Luca Lewis; Mattew Acosta, Mandela Egbo (c); Emir Tombul, Joseph Zalinsky, Jeremy Rafanello (Roald Mitchell, 77’), Daniel Edelman, Michael Knapp, Jake LaCava, Wikelman Carmona (Austin Brummet, 63’), Omar Sowe
Hartford Athletic: Jeff Caldwell; Conor McGlynn, Samuel Ashitey, Gabriel Torres, Thomas Janjigian, Arthur Rogers, Danny Barrera (c), Luka Prpa, Walmer Martinez (Richie Schlentz, 72’), Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. (Sebastian Elney, 77’), Bradford Jamieson IV