Preview: Hartford Host Red Bulls II in Search for Second Straight Win
Date: Saturday, May 14th, 2022
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Location: Trinity Health Stadium, Hartford, CT
Local TV: WCTX MyTV9
Tickets: Click here
Streaming: ESPN+ or hartfordathletic.com/watch
HARTFORD ATHLETIC (1-6-1) vs NEW YORK RED BULLS II (1-7-1)
LAST TIME OUT
Hartford Athletic are coming off their first USL Championship victory of the season, a 1-0 win over Loudoun United at home. A first half goal from Joel Johnson followed by strong team defense was enough for the victory. In the 41st minute, Corey Hertzog played a long through ball that Johnson took in stride and made a run into Loudoun's box, finishing a goal with his right foot on the run. It was a brilliant connection between two USL Championship veterans. Hartford had six shots on target in the match, their highest in any game this season so far.
BRICK BY BRICK
After a rocky 0-6-1 start to the season, Hartford Athletic have their first win and are out of a challenging stretch in the schedule. Five of their first seven games came on the road, four of them against teams that currently sit in the top five of the Eastern Conference table (PIT, DET, MIA, IND). After a victorious start to the month of May, the club has two more home games this month including this Saturday's match up with a struggling Red Bulls II squad. An opportunistic stretch for Hartford, they'll need to capitalize to bring themselves back up the table. "We need to build on this [win] brick by brick," said Head Coach Harry Watling last Saturday.
Hartford Athletic and the New York Red Bulls II have beat up on each other in Eastern Conference play over the past three seasons. NYRBII gave Hartford Athletic a rude welcome into the USL Championship in 2019, beating them by four goals in their first two matchups. Since then, the matchup history has favored the Green and Blue, as they beat the nearby New York club four times in 2020 and added a 7-0 blowout victory in 2021. Hartford owns a 6-3-1 all-time record against NYRBII.
DUE FOR A BIG ONE
Hartford has been the victim of some unforgiving bounces off the woodwork. They've hit the post seven times this season, and all but one of their losses have been by just one goal. A fortunate bounce on any of those seven shots would have likely led to at least an extra point or two towards their record. In response to this, Coach Watling has expressed that "We're due for a game where it goes in, and it goes in, and it goes in." Hartford are due for a substantial goalscoring performance.
FROM THE GAFFER
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Hartford Athletic, Joel Johnson, DF #30
Joel Johnson has been magnificent for Hartford this season, leading the team with two goals and creating seven chances so far. The team has consistently looked to him to use his skill on the outer sides of the pitch to deliver balls to his forwards and make runs into the box himself, as he did last week when he scored against Loudoun. In addition, Johnson will reach a career milestone tomorrow night, making his 150th USL Championship appearance.
New York Red Bulls II, Jeremy Rafanello, FW #39
Jeremy Rafanfello has led the Red Bulls offensively with two goals on 14 shots. He's also created seven chances and has been the club's iron man so far in 2022, playing every minute of each match. For a team that hasn't scored in their last two matches, there's a good chance Rafanello will be the man to provide the Red Bulls with a spark.
Out: Ariel Martinez (Achilles), Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. (Knee)
Questionable: Jimmy Slayton (Hip flexor)
New York Red Bulls II:
Nicholas Rabiu (Quad)
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