The New York Red Bulls stole a point at home before upsetting New York City FC on the road last week, coming out on top of the first two matches of the Hudson River Derby. Despite NYCFC looking the stronger side through the season, lackluster performances have seen them slide down the table. The Red Bulls have a few gems shining through a shaky season and rebuild, but they were in need of momentum and confidence to make the playoffs.
In the opener at Red Bull Arena, two hungry sides tested the waters, each getting early chances. NYCFC opened up chances on goal through fancy passes and overlapping runs, but when their plays fell apart, it was the Red Bulls moving quickly to threaten on the counterattack.
Phenomenal goalkeeping on both ends kept the score level until the 30th minute, when the Red Bull defense lost track of Taty Castellanos on the left side. City’s leading goalscorer brought his total to 13, slotting the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The score held through halftime, though the game became more physical following the goal. Each team was given a yellow card for hard and reckless challenges. The chances continued for both sides in the 2nd half, as the Red Bulls continued to come close after good through balls. City continued their creative play, but were wasteful with their chances.
With 20 minutes left, another reckless challenge proved costly for City. Keaton Parks brought down Dru Yearwood with a sliding tackle from behind. The NYC midfielder didn’t think too much of the challenge, but referee Ismail Elfath was quick to show Parks a red card.
Down to 10 men, NYCFC tried to close out their slim lead. With time winding down, eight minutes of stoppage time were awarded, allowing the Red Bull offense to keep pushing forward. A last-second effort by the Red Bulls saw a shot strike the arm of Maxime Chanot inside the box, drawing shouts of hand ball from the players and crowd.
After video review, Elfath awarded a 97th minute penalty, also giving Chanot a second yellow card and reducing NYCFC to 9 men. Patryk Klimala stepped up to the spot and put the equalizing goal past Johnson, with the match finishing 1-1.
To add insult to the dropped points, NYCFC would have to replace Chanot and Parks in the lineup for Saturday’s match. What didn’t change was their game plan, and despite getting more chances in the second match, City had a hard time finding the net.
Again the Red Bulls had to defend early, and again Coronel came up big in goal with a few fantastic stops. Johnson had a stop of his own, taking a shot from Omir Fernandez to the face, but keeping it out of the net.
This time the Red Bulls found a goal before the break. NYCFC let the Red Bulls hold possession inside the penalty box before Kyle Duncan laid the ball off to Fernandez, who found enough separation from Sands. The Bronx native converted at Yankee Stadium, putting the visitors ahead.
NYC couldn’t seem to find the net despite their clever play, with a wild Castellanos bicycle kick sailing just over the goal before halftime, not too far from a spectacular equalizer.
In the second half, the home crowd rose to their feet to welcome back Heber Araujo Dos Santos, who returned from a long recovery after tearing his ACL. The club’s 2019 leading scorer ran on the pitch hoping to add to a lackluster attack.
With 20 minutes to go, Coronel made his first of two vital saves, parrying a shot from Castellanos after a NYC corner. Eight minutes later, a perfect cross from Santiago Rodriguez found a wide open Jesus Medina, but his header was parried away by Coronel.
The late goalkeeping heroics saw the Red Bulls shock NYCFC with a 1-0 win on the road, taking four points from six possible in the two Derby matches. With their season near finished, the points give the Red Bulls a shot to sneak into the playoffs, going into the week just 7 points behind Montreal and DC.
While the draw and loss didn’t quite knock NYCFC out of the East’s top three, they are now within reach of five different clubs, all who can pass them if they drop more matches. NYCFC can’t afford to lose more points, as dropping out of the top four could cost home field in the playoffs.
NYCFC and the Red Bulls will face off one more time in October with the season series on the line. The Red Bulls came out on top this week, but there’s still time for either team to have the last word.