Blue Nights for NYC FC In Derby

(Frank Lampard and David Villa were no factor on Sunday night, unlike Bradley Wright-Phillips, who is to their left – Photo by Jason Schott)

The New York City Football Club lost all three games this season to the Red Bulls in the New York Derby, with the latest humbling on Sunday night, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena.

NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis said of his frustration with a third loss to the Red Bulls, “Very frustrated with the third loss to any opponent. This is become a pretty heated rivalry very quickly and so we were really up for this game and I really thought we would have a better result.”

The game began with some big chances from NYC FC. In just the third minute, there was a give-and-go from Mix Diskerud on the right side to David Villa on the left, who got it to Frank Lampard coming down the right side. Lampard fired it across the crease past Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles, but it went wide of the left post. NYC FC thought it was in, as Kreis got off the bench to celebrate, then had to quietly turn around and sit down.

In the eighth minute, Diskerud had a great chance coming down the right side, and Robles made the point-blank save.

In some ways, these were New York City’s two best chances of the night, as Lampard never got another top-quality chance the rest of the game.

NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis. Photo by Jason Schott.
NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis. Photo by Jason Schott.

Kreis said of the disconnect and lack of flow in their game in relation to these missed chances, “I think the game was a little bit too back and forth for my liking and for stretches in the game, but I do think that we created a solid number of really good chances early on in the game, I think we can count ourselves quite unlucky not to have scored a goal and it may have changed the entire affair.”

The Red Bulls broke through in the 20th minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored on a feed from Kemar Lawrence. It was on a cross from the left side that went under NYC FC defender Jefferson Mena.

The New York City FC defense has been completely revamped in the past month, with Jason Hernandez and R.J. Allen relegated to the bench and Chris Wingert out with a hamstring injury. In their places are Angelino, Andoni Iraola, and Mena. Angelino has fit in nicely, with the 18-year old giving them bursts of speed and coming up with some nice plays in this one. Iraola, the veteran from Atletico Bilbao in Spain, looks lost out there at times and constantly was being beaten by Red Bulls players coming into the zone. Mena has been the reason that NYC FC has surrendered a lot of goals the past few weeks.

Kreis said of Mena and if there was disconnect at the back, “He obviously made a mistake on the goal, but I didn’t feel he was disconnected or I really thought he actually played a decent game. He made quite a few good tackles that kept things in some situations 1v1 where we needed a critical stop and he provided it.”

NYC FC forward David Villa was bottled up in this one, unable to get any room to operate and get shots off. This was the third time that the Red Bulls gave him nothing and it was a big part of why they swept this season series. His frustration showed towards the end of the game, around the 75th minute, when a Red Bulls player stole the ball from him and led a charge to the other end, and Villa just stood looking at the action unfold in front of him.

It looked as if Villa resigned himself to the fact he was not going to break through against the Red Bulls’ defense. That feeling seemed to permeate the rest of the team as the game drew to its close and the Red Bulls controlled play for the final 10 minutes.

Kreis said on if he felt resignation from Villa and if he considered pulling him, “No, we didn’t sense resignation and we never considered pulling him.”

In the 84th minute, Wright-Phillips was in alone on the left side and got it by Saunders, but Angelino was there to kick it away. It went to his brother Shaun Wright-Phillips, also on the left side, and he shot it right at Saunders.

A minute later, the Red Bulls broke through as Mike Grella found Felipe coming down the left side. Felipe faked out a NYC FC defender and got it by Saunders to make it 2-0 Red Bulls in the 85th. Red Bulls controlled play the rest of the way, with little fight from NYC FC.

NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders amidst the smoke after the Red Bulls made it 2-0. Photo by Jason Schott.
NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders amidst the smoke after the Red Bulls made it 2-0. Photo by Jason Schott.

This was the first time all three of their designated players, Villa, Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo, were all in the starting lineup. It was just Pirlo’s third game and second start, while Lampard made his second appearance and first start.

Pirlo did masterfully in his first game against Orlando City, a 4-3 win on Sunday, July 26th. He came on in the second half and helped orchestrate two goals. In Pirlo’s next game, against Montreal on August 1st, they did not give him much room to operate and was no factor. The Red Bulls copied what Montreal did and put Sacha Kljestan on him and gave him nothing. He was tethered to the midfield and could not get any long passes off. Pirlo had plenty of corner kicks that did not create anything, including one in the 57th minute that was kicked above the box and nobody touched it, letting it roll out of bounds, causing a Bronx cheer from the Red Bulls fans.

Kreis said of the three DP’s playing and if it was baptism by fire, “I imagine that all three players have played in more hostile confines than this one so I don’t think that this was a big deal to them. I do think that we’ve got a lot of new players playing together for the first, second, third, fourth time, but I from my point of view I think there were a lot of positives tonight to draw on and we need to move forward very quickly because we’ve got another match on Thursday so I still feel that this team is alive with a chance and I believe that with that chance we can make something with the opportunity.”

Red Bulls fans welcomed Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo with this sign for the "City Retirement Home." Photo by Jason Schott.
Red Bulls fans welcomed Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo with this sign for the “City Retirement Home.” Photo by Jason Schott.

On if the Red Bulls pressure caught Lampard and Villa off guard, Kreis said, “Yeah it was the first time that they were playing the Red Bulls, but we were very prepared for this match and all of our players knew what the Red Bulls are about.”

Lampard said of how he felt about the play of David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and himself, “We lost the game obviously, but I think there were moments, particularly very early on when we could’ve taken the lead and the game might have gone differently. I’m going to get fitter and hopefully stick those chances away that didn’t quite go in today and I’m sure the three of us can contribute and then the whole team can improve over weeks and time.”

On if the key to clicking is just time, Lampard said, “I’m very confident and I said it last week after the defeat and going game to game so we need to win some, but I’m very confident with the ability that we’ve got here. Once it’s all gelling and we’re all far and in fit then I think we can go and win the games we need to get into the playoffs.”

Lampard said of how he felt in this one, “I’ve had a week’s training which is not enough so this game will help me and I need to get to my 100 percent as quick as I can because I want to help.”

New York City FC midfielder Mix Diskerud said of if he felt like everyone was on the same page, “Definitely. It’s been a good training week. We came into this game really pumped up and the atmosphere and everything helped and I felt like we were ready, but it’s all about scoring.”

Mix said of the five new starters, Pirlo, Lampard, Iraola, Mena, and Angelino, “All the new guys we added are very good soccer players. They understand the game and it’s easy for them to adapt to the team. It’s just going to get better.”

NYC FC is currently in eighth place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, with a 6-11-6 record. Their 24 points leaves them four points out of the sixth and final playoff spot.

Mix said of the position they’re currently in regarding standings, “We’ve got to win some games. It’s going to be tough but it’s a challenge we’ll take with open arms. We have to win some games moving forward now against good teams, but we’re a good team and we believe in this.”

NYC FC will not have much time to think about this one, as they are back at Yankee Stadium for a match with Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United. Diskerud said of the quick turnaround and if it’s beneficial, “Definitely, it helps. We can focus on something new.”

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