(Red Bulls’ Matt Miazga celebrating his goal – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
The New York Red Bulls won the second installment of the New York Derby on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, as they beat the New York City Football Club 3-1. It was a sellout crowd of 48,047, with a strong contingent of Red Bulls’ supporters in the upper deck that the team saluted after the game.
The Red Bulls won the first meeting between the clubs on May 10th at Red Bull Arena 2-1. That was the Red Bulls’ last victory until this past Wednesday, when they broke a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. They improve their record to 6-5-5, with 23 points on the season.
NYC FC started off strong, with Tommy McNamara breaking through for a goal developed off a David Villa corner kick in the 6th minute.
The Red Bulls kept it there, with the help of great defense and the play of goaltender Luis Robles, who made a point-blank save on a Villa chance in the 34th minute. Robles got into it with Villa in the 41st minute when they were going for a ball at the edge of the box. Robles went up to catch it while Villa tried to head it. Robles caught it, and Villa stuck his feet out getting in the way of Robles trying to land. Both players shoved each other and exchanged words and each received yellow cards for “unsporting behaviour.”
The Red Bulls came out firing in the second half. In the 47th minute, Sacha Kljestan came down the left side and found Bradley Wright-Phillips coming down the center of the field and he buried it to tie the game at 1.
Five minutes later, in the 52nd, Kljestan had a free kick from the right side about ten feet from the box. He lofted it into the right side of the box to Mike Grella, who got it to Anatole Abang, who hjeaded it to Chris Duvall, who slipped in on the right side and he slammed it in to give the the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead. The four players did their parts so perfectly in this, it was a thing of beauty.
The Red Bulls were not done, as Kemar Lawrence had a point-blank chance in the 54th minute that NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders made an incredible save on, and Wright-Phillips had a great chance in the 65th that Saunders got his fingertips in, and it still was just wide.
In the 73rd minute, Kljestan had another free kick to the right of the box. He floated it to the left post and Matt Miazga snuck past five NYC FC players and headed it in from three feet out to make it 3-1.
This was the third goal started by Sacha Kjelstan, and that made him arguably the player of the match even though he didn’t score in the game.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of Klejstan’s performance tonight, “After (last game’s) red card, he took on a lot of responsibility and he felt like he let the Club down. I told him that these things happen and that he’s going to have plenty of time to make it up to everybody. I think tonight, he wanted to make sure in a derby match that he’s going to step on the field and make a big imprint and I think he did. He was good on set pieces too, so we may have to make a change and have him as the one over the ball. Overall, he’s been an important guy from day one. His mentality and what he’s brought to the group – how he trains and how he plays; the whole bit. It was good to see him have a good game.”
Kljestan said of the first half and how they adjusted and took over, “The first half we started really slow. I think they came with a lot of energy. We weren’t prepared. Then after 15 or 20 minutes, we had the rest of the game. We were creating chances and in the end we had a lot of confidence we would win the game.”
Marsch said of overcoming the 1-0 deficit in the first half, “We talked a lot, especially in the four game losing stretch, learning about ourselves, growing as individuals and as a team and a lot of it has been… whatever you want to call it, a competitive edge, a killer instinct, the sense of and belief that when the times are toughest that we were going to respond. When we were down 1-0, I felt like we systematically went about the game knowing that it was going to come. We came out in the second half and right away we had the lead and pushed it from there. I’m proud of the guys tonight and it showed a lot of character.
Marsch said of Chris Duvall and Matt Miazga’s development, “The starting point is that we’ve invested in young players. Chris has had a very good year for us. It’s just a couple of moments one v. one defensively he’s let a guy get a little bit of room on him and then maybe they get a shot or a cross that has led to a goal. I’ve told him often as a defender you’re judged by how many mistakes that lead to goals. If he can clean that up, all the other good things that he does for us would show up more. I thought tonight whenever Villa came into space he helped deal with that really well. He was competitive. He was hard to play against. He was very active. He was good coming forward out on the wing and then he sniffed out a goal.
“I’ve liked Matt from watching him last year. A major goal of mine was to help him establish himself within our group. He’s talented man. He’s got a lot of ability and now it’s turning a young man into a man, into a pro, into a real center back. He’s making big strides this year. We know he’s only going to get better from here,” said Marsch.
Red Bulls midfielder and Captain Dax McCarty said of tonight’s match, “Tonight’s a good feeling. Unbelievable atmosphere, credit to the NYCFC fans and obviously our fans for making it very enjoyable. Sometimes it’s not easy to watch games on this field and I think you saw from the get go it was hectic, it was not ideal going down early. I thought once the game went on a little bit, 20 minutes in we started to settle down, we started to play better and then the second half we knew we were going to come out, we just needed an early one and what a finish from Brad, so it was a great second half, some of the best stuff we’ve played all season. Honestly, we scored three, it could’ve been five. They were gassed, we had energy, we had life, great performance in the second half and I’m just glad we got a win for our fans.”
McCarty said of Miazga, “He’s got confidence and so that’s the one thing a young guy needs. I told Matt he was going to score off of a set-piece coming up soon and it’s funny. We felt like we could take advantage of NYCFC on set-pieces and in the first half they kind of did a lot of things that confused us and we weren’t ready for it. They were on top of the game in that way and got a little bit better and they got their goal. In the second half, obviously two set-piece goals that were well worked. Matt, he’s a beast and he has to win his battles. If he starts to play more physical, if he starts to realize once he wins his physical battles, that’s half the game for him. You know he’s going to go very far in this league and hopefully in other leagues. He’s been great since he’s come back and obviously we need that depth with [Ronald] Zubar coming out.”
McCarty said of what the general message was at half time, “Keep going. We were going in the right direction. I think the game, we started a little bit nervous. Obviously in a big game that always tends to be the case, but we felt the game tilting in our favor the last 15, 20 minutes of the first half, we knew that we were going to be on top of the game in the second half so the message was keep going. Don’t give up another goal and let’s try to get an early one. We knew that our fitness was very good and that we were going to be able to run at them and continue to put them under pressure so I felt like we were able to get our deserved rewards with the goals and like I said defensively, I think Luis [Robles] was called on to make one or two saves, but we were pretty solid. Second half was just a great performance all around.”
On Sacha Kljestan’s performance, McCarty said, “Sacha was hungry, Sacha was motivated. He felt like he let the team down against Vancouver. He made a mistake and he apologized to us for it and we forgave him and he’s been working so hard in training to come back and make a difference. Credit to him, he found so many dangerous spots in the second half, he was a little bit gassed there at the end, but he created so many chances for us today. Obviously the cross on Bradley’s goal was tremendous and he probably could’ve had two or three more assists. He had another one he played Bradley through, the keeper made an unbelievable save on. Sacha’s just rounding into form and we need him. We need him to be our brain. We need him to make plays for us because that’s what we brought him in for so he’s been steadily getting better every game and hopefully this is a game where his confidence just goes through the roof and that he can continue this form.”
Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga on his first experience playing at Yankee Stadium: “It was awesome. It was a good experience. We were playing against our rival in a packed house. It was unbelievable. It was overall a great experience.”