PREVIEW: Nor'easters face another early season challenge against NY Red Bulls U-23s

Ocean City travels to Whippany, NJ on Sunday to face last year's division champion

The Ocean City Nor'easters return to Premier Development League (PDL) play when they travel to Whippany, NJ to take on the New York Red Bulls Under-23s. The Nor'easters will play their sixth straight road game to start the 2018 season when they take on last year's Mid-Atlantic Division champion.

The game will take place at the Red Bull Training Facility on Sunday, May 27 with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Red Bulls U-23s, much like division rival Lehigh Valley United, enjoyed success in the National Premier Soccer League (winning the league title in 2014) and left to join the PDL. However, unlike United, the Red Bulls continued their success into the PDL, winning a pair of division titles (including last year), qualifying for the playoffs (twice) and reaching the PDL Final (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 Lamar Hunt 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 Nor'easters lead the all-time series 3-2-2 and have yet to lose to the Red Bulls at the Beach House (2-0-2).

Ocean City enters the game with a 1-1-0 record in league play after they suffered their first PDL loss last weekend when they fell to the first place Long Island Rough Riders. They began the season with a 2-1 road win over FA Euro New York back on May 13.

Both the Nor'easters and the Red Bulls qualified for the 2018 US Open Cup. Ocean City picked up a road win over AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL), 3-0, in Round 1 followed by a 3-1 upset over the USL's Charlotte Independence. The run would come to an end in the Third Round with a 4-1 loss, also on the road, against the USL's North Carolina FC. The Red Bulls' lost their opening round game 2-1 to FC Motown a New Jersey-based amateur team that features former MLS player Dilly Duka. 

Brian Saramago leads Red Bulls with two goals. As always, the Red Bulls feature some excellent prospects, including a pair of players ranked in the Top 20 of the PDL's Top Prospects List. Midfielder Janos Loebe (Fordham University) is ranked No. 7 and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair (Maryland) sits at No. 14.

The Nor'easters have four players ranked in the Top 40 of the Top Prospect List: Goalkeeper Alec Smir (No. 17), Ignacio Tellechea (No. 30), Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (No. 35) and Alex Rose (No. 39). Nikola Fimic, who played for the Nor'easters last season and currently plays for the Oklahoma City Energy Under-23s, occupies the No. 11 spot.

The Red Bulls are 2-1-0 entering this weekend's match with Ocean City with their lone loss coming in their home opener against the Rough Riders. They rebounded from that season opening loss with wins over FA Euro New York and Lehigh Valley United. This is the fourth of five straight home games for the Red Bulls.

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