An inspired New York City side recorded their first victory at the Red Bull Arena over fierce rivals New York Red Bulls, as they strengthened their third place position in the Eastern Conference and look to be edging closer to the Play Offs.
As this was my first MLS game, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that there was a growing ‘Ultras’ culture in all teams, with fan groups providing tifos and various other atmospherics. I also knew, from watching on TV, that the game would be played at a very fast pace. As with all MLS games, the US national anthem was played pre-match (Canadian for any Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto games) and it was belted out in a typical American fashion, with fireworks accompanying the last verse. The atmosphere around the ground was very good, with both sets of fans creating a large amount of noise. Another unique feature was that. despite it being a derby match, there was relatively no fan segregation, with many NYCFC fans sitting in with Red Bulls fans.
The game did not disappoint with its fast paced nature, with all the early play being very end to end and the first real chance came on 15 minutes when Jack Harrison’s curling effort was saved well by Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles. Red Bulls had their best chance with Daniel Royer’s header after 26 minutes. The missed chance proved costly, as on 33 minutes City took the lead after a cutback from Ben Sweat found Harrison, with an excellent first time shot that looped over Robles in the Red Bulls net. Yangel Herrera had a chance to double the lead before half-time but his shot was saved well by Robles.
Not long after half-time, Herrera tested Robles again with a low first time drive through a mass of bodies, which was parried well by the Red Bulls stopper, again coming to the rescue. The overall tempo of the match was high, with a lot of end to end play, but the creativity was lacking for Red Bulls, who couldn’t create many clear cut chances or openings. City also struggled with this, but the ones they did create they were clinical with.
The lead was doubled after 65 minutes when a free kick was looped over to the back post and Ben Sweat came in unmarked to head back across goal and into the far corner, with what was his first ever MLS goal, clearly exposing some of the defensive frailties for the Red Bulls, which had been present throughout the match. After this second goal, Red Bulls were pushing to get back into the match, but their lack of creativity proved costly and they were unable to get on the scoresheet.
Final Score-New York Red Bulls 0-2 New York City
Red Bulls: Robles, Murillo (Zisso 60), Collin, Long, Lawrence, Adams (Lade 82), Martins, Muyi, Kljestan, Royer (Veron 60), Wright-Phillips Subs: Lade (Adams 82), Zisso (Murillo 60), Meara, Davis, Veron (Royer 60), Ndam, Perinelle
City: Johnson, Allen, Chanot, Callens, Sweat, Herrera, Ring, Harrison, McNamara (Lopez 90+1), Wallace (Matarrita 74), Villa (Okoli 83) Subs: White, Lopez (McNamara 90+1), Okoli (Villa 83), Brillant, Pirlo, Matarrita (Wallace 74), Johansen