Unlike the senior team, there would be no blown 2-0 lead in a big game for the Baby Bulls.
New York Red Bulls II defeated the Swope Park Rangers, 5-1, to win the franchise's first USL championship. NYRB II is the first MLS reserve team to win a USL championship since reserve teams were introduced into the league in 2014 with LA Galaxy II.
Regular season leading-scorer Brandon Allen contributed a hat trick, scoring two of his goals in the final 15 minutes to put the game out of reach.
NYRB II controlled the game from the opening kickoff, scoring two goals in the first half. Derrick Etienne scored early to give the home side a lead they would never give up.
Allen scored the first of his goals late in the first half to secure the dominant first fourty-five. NYRB II held that lead until the 74th minute, when a fluky free kick from Swope Park bounced off the wall and fooled Ryan Meara. The goal brought shades of the senior team, which has seen a number of two-goal leads erased late in MLS games.
Instead, the goal galvanized NYRB II, who stuck to its successful high-pressing system, looking to consume Swope Park instead of bunkering to hold on to the lead.
The strategy proved successful, as over the last seven minutes of the game NYRB II added three more goals to bring on the rout. In the 85th minute a wild, wacky sequence saw the ball fall off Allen's feet with an open goal. The poacher buried his shot, securing the brace, and restoring the two goal lead.
At that moment, Swope Park's chances at a comeback were gutted, and NYRB II continued to feast on its prey. Three minutes later, Allen completed the hat trick, and in stoppage time Vincent Bezecourt added another goal for good measure.
"I think we just let off the gas a little bit in the second half, but towards the end we were able to pick things back up and were able to kill the game off," Allen told reporters after the final.
"That's how the chances to come, when they started to break down. There were a lot of gaps in their back four, and that's how we created chances."
Over 5,000 fans came to Red Bulls Arena to watch the final, by far the largest crowd to ever grace an NYRB II game. The final also served as the final NYRB II game, for now, at Red Bull Arena. Next season, the team will play home matches at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey.
In two years, head coach John Wolyniec has given the ultimate legitimacy to NYRB II. He has integrated academy players, USL contracts, and MLS players on loan, juggling with a different player pool each week. Wolyniec has been with the organization off and on since 1999, serving as a coach in various positions since 2010.
"These guys have been great," Wolyniec said. "When you have a team that has different heroes each and every week, when you have guys who when you change players from week to week and everybody seems to step up, that's a good feeling as a coach.
"You know the message is coming through, and the guys are together and buying in and pushing themselves and picking each other up, and doing all of the things that we would call teamwork."