PREVIEW: Nor'easters host Red Bulls U-23s in must-win season finale tonight
Kids with club soccer jerseys get in free as Ocean City needs win to have a chance to qualify for 2019 US Open Cup
The Ocean City Nor'easters plays in the Mid-Atlantic Division, which is arguably the most competitive division in the Premier Development League (PDL). As a result, the Nor'easters enter tonight's PDL season finale against the New York Red Bulls Under-23s with an 8-5-0 record (24 points) and no chance of making the playoffs. In fact, 24 points would make them a second place team in seven of the league's other 10 divisions.
So with the playoffs out of reach, the Nor'easters have a simple goal in Sunday's finale. If they defeat the Red Bulls U-23s (9-2-1), a team that has already clinched a playoff spot as the top second place team in the Eastern Conference, Ocean City will put themselves in prime position for a berth in the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
MORE: Check out the updated qualifying standings for the 2019 US Open Cup
The game will take place at Carey Stadium ("The Beach House") with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Carey Stadium box office for $10.
All kids wearing their club soccer jersey will be admitted to the game free of charge. Click here for more information about group ticket packages, birthday parties and how soccer coaches can get in free.
There will be no live stream available for the game. Fans unable to make it out to the Beach House can follow the action as it happens on the Nor'easters' official twitter account @OCNoreasters.
Ocean City enters Sunday's game full of confidence as the team has won their last two matches. They completed the three-game season sweep of Lehigh Valley United with a 3-2 win on Wednesday, followed by a dominant 7-1 exhibition win over the D.C. United Under-23s on Friday.
Including exhibition games, the Nor'easters have won six of their last seven matches.
They are led by solid group of young players headlined by Deri Corfe (Wright State / Chester, England) who leads the team in scoring in all competitions (5 goals, 7 assists). Alex Rose (North Carolina / Cary, NC) leads the team in goals with seven, while converted defender Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (Fairleigh Dickinson / Limbe, Haiti) leads the team in assists with six.
These two teams last met back on May 27 when Ocean City traveled up to Whippany, NJ to face the Red Bulls. Fresh off the Storm's run into the Third Round of the US Open Cup, the Nor'easters were delivered a difficult blow 16 minutes into the game when Kyle Gurrieri (South Carolina / Totowa, NJ) was shown a straight red card. New York would capitalize on their advantage, winning the game 4-0 to hand Ocean City their worst loss since 2008.
The Red Bulls come into the game riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1). Their last loss came on June 2 when they lost a narrow 2-1 decision to Reading United on the road.
In their last game, they traveled north to take on the Long Island Rough Riders and defeated them 3-1 which avenged a season opening loss back on May 12.
Without question, their star player is Brian Saramago, who leads the team with 11 goals in 12 games. Other players to watch include Janos Loebe, a midfielder from Fordham who is ranked No. 8 on the PDL's Top Prospects List and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair (Univerity of Maryland) who ranks No. 14.
The Red Bulls U23s, joined Lehigh Valley as another team that enjoyed success in the NPSL (winning the league title in 2014) and left to join the PDL. However, unlike United, the Red Bulls have continued their success into the PDL by winning a pair of division titles (including last year), qualifying for the playoffs (three times, including this year) and reaching the PDL Final in 2015.
The Nor'easters have a history with the Red Bulls outside of league play, as Ocean City defeated them in the First Round of the 2013 US Open Cup when New York was part of the NPSL. Last year, the Nor'easters hit the goal post four times in a 3-1 road loss early in the season and earned a 1-1 draw at home. The series between the two teams is tied at 3-3-2.
The Nor'easters have history on their side as they have never lost to the Red Bulls at the Beach House (2-0-2). The Storm will try to keep that streak going tonight.