(NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders confers with defender Jason Hernandez after the game – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
The New York City Football Club suffered a dispiriting 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the second installment of the New York Derby on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Red Bulls have now won both meetings against their inter-city rivals.
NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis was steamed about his team’s performance and was left with these thoughts on this team, “From my point of view, it’s the first time I felt like I don’t think we got a real honest effort out of all our players.”
Kreis continued, “I guess my biggest fear coming into this game was that we had gone three games on a winning streak and four games unbeaten and I think the players started to feel as if they had made it a little bit. You see this happen in our league all the time. For me, I think it comes down to a little bit of attitude, a little bit of complacency and comfort thinking that the game is easier than it is. In some ways, they say in this game, sometimes you can score too early, I think tonight we scored too early, it came too easy. That gave our guys that extra comfort and complacency that we can’t have.”
NYC FC entered this game on a three-game winning streak, as Kreis mentioned above, and there was an electricity in the crowd with an anticipation that they could get a statement win over their inter-city rivals. The Stadium was sold out, with 48,047 fans on hand, most of which were in the blue of NYC FC. Andrea Pirlo, who it is pretty much assumed will be joining the club, was in attendance, and that got the crowd going before the game. Pirlo took in the game from a luxury box with Frank Lampard, and it was announced repeatedly before the game that he will be in action when NYC FC returns to Yankee Stadium to face Toronto FC on July 12th.
They came out strong, and wasted no time putting pressure on the Red Bulls net. David Villa earned a corner kick in the 6th minute. After a give-and-go on the left side of the field, he fired a pass across the box to Andrew Jacobson, who lofted one into the box to Mix Diskerud, who headed it to Tommy McNamara, who drilled it to make it 1-0 NYC FC.
McNamara said of the beginning of the game, “We came out well. That’s how you want to start games. And it was the best case scenario. You want to score in the first 5-10 minutes. After that, we had a few moments in the first half where we had really good looks on goal. It was a good way to start the match, but could have been a better ending.”
In the 17th minute, NYC FC defender Chris Wingert sprung in on the right side for a great chance right in front of the net and he could not corral the ball and it rolled wide. A minute later, Wingert got tangled up with Red Bulls forward Anatole Abang and both hit the ground, with Abang landing on Wingert’s leg.
Wingert stayed in, but was limping around and eventually was pulled in the 24th minute. Jeb Brovsky came in for him, and after being on the field for two Red Bulls goals, was pulled himself in the 70th minute. It is rare to see a guy subbed into a game and pulled out later on.
Kreis said of Wingert’s injury effecting the defense, “I do think that that affects the game. I’m a guy that never likes to take defenders out of matches, and having to make a substitution so early in that one it was really difficult for us. So I think that cohesion dropped off a bit from there.”
NYC FC kept the heat on the Red Bulls’ net, but could never break through for that second goal. Their frustration built as halftime neared, as Villa got into it with Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles on a challenge at the top of the crease. Each got yellow cards for “unsporting behaviour.”
Kreis said of what getting a second goal would have done for the team, “If we had scored that second goal I think we would have had a very different game and their confidence would have risen from there.”
New York City FC Defender Shay Facey said of how scoring a second goal would’ve changed the match, “We definitely had a very good chance with David [Villa] at the end of the first half. If that goes in, the then game opens completely up. Then they would have to come chasing the game and gaps would start opening up for us. Unfortunately, we lost our way a bit in the second half and they capitalized on the loss of our momentum and gained some in their favor.”
In the second half, the Red Bulls came out firing, with Bradley Wright-Phillips tying the game in the 47th minute, and a short time later, Chris Duvall giving them a 2-1 lead in the 52nd minute. The Red Bulls kept the pressure going and Matt Miazga got past the NYC defense and headed one in on the right side in the 73rd minute to make it 3-1.
All three goals were set up by Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan, and he was arguably the Red Bulls’ most valuable player because of that. Kreis said of Kljestan, “Sacha’s an excellent player. He was floating into spaces where he’s very dangerous. He was causing our defense all kinds of fits about how to sort out their numbers and keep guys in the right spots.”
The Red Bulls shut down David Villa and Mix Diskerud in the second half, and that was the formula they used to win their first meeting on May 10th. The only NYC FC player that got any openings was Kwadwo Poku, their sparkplug off the bench.
Diskerud on what changed in the second half, “I think that a lot of things could have been done better. I’m not going to sit back and analyze everything right now, but obviously in a game like this, there a lot of things that could be improved.”
Kreis said of any tactical mistakes they made in the second half, “No, I think the second half was a continuation of the end of the first half, to be honest. I thought that we did a real nice job how we started the game, came out for 25, 30 minutes, was real good, then the rest was real poor. We got away from everything we’ve been trying to do for several weeks and months, and it was an effort that was really disappointing.”
Kreis said of the support of the fans this season, “Absolutely remarkable, it’s been unbelievable. All of us, as participants in this type of match, and participants in this league right now, we can be incredibly thankful that the fans have continued to come out here and support us so loudly and so proudly. I keep saying, and I hope that the fans believe me, that we’re going to give back, it’s only a matter of time, but we’re going to keep giving back. Anytime we play at home, it’s a time to impress fans, to win fans over, to pay back the fans that have been there from the beginning.”
New York City FC midfielder Mix Diskerud said of the support the fans have given, “It’s been incredible this whole week. I had so many fans that were reaching out about this game and supporting us. It really feels good when we have so many people standing behind us and chanting.”
Mix said of Frank Lampard joining the team, “Obviously, it’s big for us. He’s a legendary player and he will add a lot to the Club. I’m definitely excited to train with him and I’m sure I can learn a lot from him.”
NYC FC midfielder Ned Grabavoy said of what changed in the second half, “We came out in the second half and just didn’t play as well. We just need to get back to doing the things that had made us successful during the past few matches.”
McNamara said of the winning streak being snapped, “It’s disappointing. Any game you lose is disappointing. A lot of fans came out to support. We are very thankful for that and grateful for them for how they supported us.”
Facey said of losing the match in front of the home crowd, “It’s a disappointment for the fans and everybody at the Club, but we’ve been through a lot of difficult times this season. We will bounce back.”
Facey said of whether the Club approached the derby as a regular game, “It’s a big game and we tried to put on a show. We work hard every single week. We come out here to win, especially at home in front of all of our fantastic fans.”