The New York Red Bulls rolled past New York City Football Club, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena,and Bradley Wright-Phillips led the way with two goals.
The Red Bulls won two of the three matches in the Hudson River Derby for the season, and outscored NYC FC 11-3 in the process.
With the win, the Red Bulls are now 9-9-4, 31 points, on the season, and 8-2-1 at home, moving into second place, just two points behind NYC FC (9-7-6, 33 points) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the 20th minute, as he got a nice feed from Sacha Kljestan in the box.
Just three minutes later, Ronald Zubar made it 2-0 Red Bulls when he headed in a corner kick from Kljestan. Zubar hit it so quickly and to the corner that NYC FC goaltender Josh Saunders was motionless until it went in.
Kljestan got a goal of his own, on a free kick resulting from an NYC FC handball, in the 41st minute to give them a commanding three-goal edge.
Soon after, in the 43rd minute, Tommy McNamara scored on a rocket from the left side about 30 yards out into the top right corner of the net to make it 3-1 going into the half.
Wright-Phillips put the game away in the 70th minute when he came in on a break and went to the right side, up to Saunders, then he dribbled back left, faking out Saunders and burying it to make it 4-1 Red Bulls.
“I think, more than anything, when Brad has had rest, when Sacha has had rest and they’ve been able to recover, they’ve been able to produce quality in big moments,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said of Wright-Phillips and Kljestan. “So first full week of training that we’ve had in a while where we can actually rest a little bit, work on some things, get sharp in training, design a game plan, execute it, and then allow our players to play the game.
“So I think more than anything — okay, Brad’s a big game player. Sacha’s a big game player. There’s no question about that. But the more that we can, I think, control how much — how many minutes they’re putting in and what their workloads are, I think the better that they’ll be.
“Now, that requires partly that the guys who are behind them to be able to step up when necessary. So it’s both sides. We need to continue to call on the depth of our team, and we need Brad and Sacha to keep themselves sharp and going.”
“I think we didn’t defend well as a team,” NYC FC head coach Patrick Vieira said. “I think, as a team, we give them too much space. I believe, as a block, the way we planned to defend, we didn’t respect it. It was really too easy for them to penetrate centrally, and Andoni was sometimes exposed against two players. I believe that from the front players, we didn’t work hard enough to make it more difficult for them.”
“Below par” is how NYC FC midfielder Frank Lampard described his team’s performance. “I think we were off the mark slightly, we didn’t defend well enough as a group, I think, from front to back, which meant we were chasing a bit too much and then when we had the ball we weren’t as effective as we have been in recent weeks. Simple as that.”
Wright-Phillips always seems to get up for NYC FC even more than other opponents, with some big performances in Derby matches.
“Yeah, he does. There’s no doubt,” Marsch said of Wright-Phillips stepping up against NYC FC. “Even when I took him off, he didn’t want to come off. He wanted to get the third. With the way that they pressure, we felt like we could do certain things to gain advantages in certain parts of the field, which would then lead Sacha to find gaps in their team. And then whenever Sacha is catching balls in important spots, he knows that his first option is Brad. So his ability to sort of move and see things and then slip a ball to Brad the right way that sets him up to execute around the goal, that’s what makes their relationship special, and that’s what makes each one of them good. I think they really work off of each other to make each other better.”
“I don’t know, man,” Wright-Phillips said of treating these games differently. “It’s just…if I had to put it on anything, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different but if I had to put it on anything, I’ve grown up, you know, watching derbies and you know I get nervous before them, it’s a different feeling. And I said it before the first time we ever played them, I want to be the first to score in this game. To me it means, it’s, I don’t do it on purpose it just means so much more to me when I’m out there. I want it, I want to get goals and I want to be remembered in the derby.”
The Red Bulls won the first match with NYC FC 7-0 on May 21 at Yankee Stadium, and NYC FC got their revenge on July 3, a 2-0 triumph. They celebrated a bit much after that one, and that rubbed some of the Red Bulls players the wrong way.
“We are focused on us, and we are focused on our season,” Marsch said of how the Red Bulls treat matches with NYC FC. “We had a lot of big challenges this year. We dug a huge hole for ourselves. The last 15 games were 8-3-4. It’s not the best record in the league in that stretch, but it’s a very, very good record.
“So I think for us, we feel like we’ve dug ourselves out, and it’s not been easy, man. We’ve had our backs against the wall in a lot of different weeks. We’ve let games slip. We haven’t been as good as we’d like to be on the road. But I feel like now we’re starting to really show — not that we’re turning the corner, but that we’ve turned the corner.
“And the key for us now is to keep our foot on the gas and to keep going after games, to stay concentrated and focused on what it’s going to take night in and night out and to now make sure that we’re getting a good performance from as many players as we possibly can.”
This rivalry has certainly progressed in its second year, with fierce play and two teams that don’t like each other much. In this game, NYC FC head coach Patrick Vieira was sent off in the 34th minute and Ethan White was ejected with two yellows. Four other NYC FC players, including Frank Lampard and David Villa, took yellow card. Two Red Bulls, Ronald Zubar and Mike Grella, took yellows as well.
“It’s definitely the real deal but I do think, you know, I hope it doesn’t but playing them three times a season could almost wear, you know, the novelty, I hope it doesn’t but the novelty could almost wear off, you know, it’s too much,” said Wright-Phillips of the rivalry. “Everywhere around the world you play a team twice and each occasion is massive but so far every occasion has been big and we play our part in that.”
“It has grown, but it’s been there since day one,” Marsch said of the Hudson River rivalry. “I think that’s what’s been pretty awesome about it. I think, from the fan bases to the organizations to the players, I think that there’s been a lot of energy and a lot of pride from both sides.
“Now that we’re starting to build history and you’re starting to see hatred, that’s going to add to it for the next — the upcoming games in years to come. So that’s what makes rivalries. That’s what makes Derby matches. It’s there. It’s there.”