Red Bulls II could not overcome Hartford Athletic in its season opener. (Photo courtesy of Red Bulls II)

MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Red Bulls II dug an early hole for itself and could not get out of it, dropping a 3-2 decision to Hartford Athletic, in the 2021 USL Championship season opener at MSU Soccer Park on the campus of Montclair State University Friday night.

Team captain Danny Barrera gave the visitors the lead in the 13th minute before Juan Carlos Obregon doubled the advantage in the 36th minute.

Jake LaCava pulled one back for NYRB II in the 68th minute.

Arthur Rogers restored Hartford’s two-goal margin off a set piece in the 85th minute.

Team captain Mandela Egbo made it interesting by converting a penalty kick three minutes later.

Two Red Bulls Academy players started the match – Matthew Acosta and Joseph Zalinsky as outside backs.

Jeremy Rafanello, who earned an assist on LaCava’s goal, made his NYRB II debut along with center back Emir Tombul, defender Manny Egbo and midfielder Wikelman Carmona.

Current academy players Acosta, Roald Mitchell and Austin Brummet made their debuts as USL Academy signings, with recent signings Michael Knapp and Daniel Edelman making their professional debuts.

NYRB II hosts the Charleston Battery Friday.