Jack Harrison had a goal and an assist to lead New York City Football Club to their first win ever in the Hudson River Derby, over the Red Bulls, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Harrison’s goal came just eight minutes into the game, and it was the culmination of a fast start by NYC FC.
Andrea Pirlo took a corner kick from the left corner, sent it to Harrison, who knocked it down on the right side of the box, and fired a rocket past Red Bulls goaltender Luis Robles to give NYC FC the 1-0 edge.
In the 66th minute, Harrison ran down the right side as NYC FC had an odd-man rush, and he threw it to David Villa coming down the left side, and Villa buried it to make it 2-0.
“He does a good job for us and obviously he’s been doing it well in the final third, Pirlo said of the difference Harrison has made in his first season in New York. “He has the ability to get in behind defenses but also to get underneath them and run at them. He is difficult to deal with and it makes other teams stay honest which helps the entire team out.”
This rivalry, only in its second year, is already quite intense, and there was rough play throughout this one.
NYC FC’s Tommy McNamara got in a shoving match with the Red Bulls’ Chris Duvall, Villa put his hand across Felipe’s face, grazing the Red Bull midfielder’s eye, and Duvall received a red card for going studs-up on a challenge to Pirlo in the 79th minute.
NYC FC goaltender Josh Saunders earned his fourth clean sheet of the season, as he turned away three Red Bulls shots on net. The Red Bulls had 13 shots overall, as did NYC FC, who put six on net.
This might have been NYC FC’s best defensive game of the year, as the Red Bulls did not have any sustained attack and their big scoring threats Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan, and Mike Grella were held in check.
“I think we did our homework,” NYC FC head coach Patrick Vieira said of what their plan was tactically. “We knew that they are aggressive and that they were going to stay on the ball. Our idea was just to create more distance between their outside backs to close our outside backs and give us a little more time to make a decisions and that’s why I’m really happy because we took the three points, but I was more pleased with the way we played because we stuck to our principles and that was really good.
“We had all week to prepare for the game. We were a completely new version of New York City because we had a week to prepare for the game. Mentally and physically we were prepared to play a derby game and that wasn’t the case when we played the first game. Today I was really pleased. We worked hard. We worked well. I strongly believe that we had the best team today.”
The biggest thing for NYC FC is that this was a revenge game, as they got their vengeance for the 7-0 Red Bulls romp on May 21 at Yankee Stadium.
“The last one was a little peculiar,” Pirlo said of the differences in their matches with the Red Bulls. We had a few strange moments that were out of the ordinary. However, in this match we paid attention to every detail and obviously the result of the match reflects that.”
With the win, NYC FC moves into first place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points (7-5-6), while the Red Bulls drop to 7-9-2, with 23 points, and remain in fourth.
“It was nice to get a win in the Derby but at the end of the day its three points,” McNamara said of the big win. “It’s a long season so we may be at the top of the derby right now but there’s no guarantee that we are going to be there at the end of the year. We have to stay humble and hopefully there is more to come going forward.”
This was NYC FC’s first win against the Red Bulls in five tries, as they lost three times to them last season and the 7-0 drubbing on May 21.
“I think being on top of the league at this point in time doesn’t mean a lot,” Vieira said of whether it feels better getting his first derby win or being in first place and whether this was the team’s best defensive game. “What I’m pleased with is our performance and the way we played today because people were expecting a reaction from us from the way we played in the last game against them. I’m really pleased because the team was really organized, determined, and worked really well for each other – and of course, taking the three points because what is important for us is trying to have this kind of consistency game after game. I’m also really pleased because we didn’t concede a goal. This was our second game where we didn’t concede a goal and I’m really pleased with that as well.”
NYC FC has steadily improved as the season has gone on, and they entered this one on a two-game winning streak, with wins over Philadelphia at home and at Seattle.
“They were the better team today,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “They wanted it more and they showed that on the field. I think that they changed certain things about how they defended to make it hard for us.
“We weren’t sharp enough today and some of our advantages when we pressed and won balls didn’t go our way. You go to last game where in set pieces we managed to get an edge, today we didn’t. They got their first goal on a set piece that we knew was coming but we didn’t do well enough.
“Credit to New York City. They wanted it bad and with the way that this series has gone they weren’t happy and knew that it would require a big competitive effort. They poured their hearts out on the field and in the end they earned it more than us and deserved it more than us.”
The Hudson River Derby shifts to Red Bull Arena for the third an final installment of the regular season on July 24 at 1:00 pm.