The second and final match of this season’s Hudson River Derby will be played a Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Both team’s fortunes had changed since their first encounter at Red Bull Arena back in July where a controversial call that led to a header by Daniel Royer put the home side ahead for the 2-1 win.
Since then, the New York Red Bulls have gone 2-3-1, a total 7 points in that span. Their current road record is not much to speak of either, 4-5-4 while playing away from the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena. Besides playing in a venue where only LAFC recorded a victory there, they are in the midst of the toughest part of the schedule, playing teams that are above the playoff line in a very tight Eastern Conference. To say that this is a must a must-win match is an understatement.
Meanwhile, NYCFC currently sit in third place, just four points shy of the conference leaders, the Philadelphia Union. Since that match, they have gone 4-2-0, a whopping 12 points in that span. Head coach Domènec Torrent has his team peaking at the right time.
Players to Watch:
Daniel Royer – New York Red Bulls
Bradley Wright-Phillips may be the derby’s all time assassin, scoring more goals (12) than any player on the Red Bulls squad, but Daniel Royer is the key man in this match. The Danish midfielder has tallied eight goals this season, one behind team leader Brian White with nine. Should he and White manage to get a goal or two in, it will bode very well for the visitors from Harrison.
Héber – New York City FC:
If the Red Bulls are ever going to leave Yankee Stadium with some much-needed points at the final whistle, their defense must find a way to keep NYCFC’s potent midfield quiet and him off the score sheet. He’s tallied twelve goals in seventeen appearances this season, three of them match-winners. Because of that, it might be a tough task within the tight confines of the stadium’s pitch.
This is an important match for both teams beyond local bragging rights.
For NYCFC, it’s a chance to cement their playoff position for a home game in the playoffs, with the bonus of possibly silencing their bitter local rival in the process, and having a legitimate shot for the top spot in the conference.
For the Red Bulls, whether they like it or not, it’s a de facto playoff game. It’s a match that they can ill-afford to leave points on the table. The question is this: Can Armas’ crew find a way to be just the second team to win at a place that wins by the visitors are rare? We’re about to find out.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography