NYCFC claimed four points from two Regular Season visits to Red Bull Arena in 2017 but they got off to the worst-possible start on their sole visit in Season Four of the rivalry.
A quick-fire double from Kaku and Florian Valot had City 2-0 down inside the opening 4’ as the hosts’ high press caught the visitors cold.
Sean Johnson had done well to parry Bradley Wright-Phillips’ shot with 2’ on the clock but new signing Kaku was there to tap home the rebound.
Two minutes later, the deficit was doubled as Valot’s strike took a wild deflection off Alexander Callens and looped over Johnson into the net to make it 2-0.
After a rocky start, Patrick Vieira’s men did begin to show some resistance, stringing together some passes and gaining a foothold in the game but they were indebted to their goalkeeper for keeping the match alive on 31’.
After Alex Ring was dispossessed just outside the penalty area, Wright-Phillips was clean through on goal but Johnson made a huge save, racing out and blocking the goalbound strike.
It proved to be just a reprieve, however, as Wright-Phillips made amends on 35’, heading in Kaku’s cross to make it 3-0.
Berget had City’s lone meaningful effort of the first period with the last kick of the half, forcing Joel Robles into a fine save before the whistle blew.
Vieira was decisive at half-time, switching the formation to 3-5-2 and bringing Sebastien Ibeagha and Ebenezer Ofori onto the field.
The impact was almost immediate, with Jesus Medina heading over a golden opportunity from a David Villa cross in the second minute of the half.
All of a sudden the game was wide open and NYCFC were finally asking questions of a creaking Red Bulls side who had lost some of the zeal from their pressing game, with the additional width in City’s shape causing problems for the home team.
Yangel Herrera and Villa both went close for the Boys in Blue before Rodney Wallace was introduced as the final substitute on 65’.
City continued to edge the balance of play until Etienne Jr. finally ended any faint hopes of a comeback when he rounded Johnson and slotted home with 10′ left on the clock.
The teams will meet again at Yankee Stadium for the first of two Bronx bouts in 2018 on July 8.