Red and Yellow cards were enough to describe the final game this season between NYCFC and the rival Red Bulls of New York that play across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
As intense as this rivalry has become, NYCFC and the Red Bulls at this juncture of the season are competing for the top seed in the MLS Eastern Conference in a division that sees Atlanta United FC on top. Wednesday night at Yankees Stadium, 30,000 fans will say this was a game with plenty of implications
And after a 1-1 draw, once again NYCFC scoring their goal in the second half from David Villa, the rivalry was more intense. This Hudson River Derby is over for now, unless these two teams meet in the playoffs and NYCFC continues to be dominant at home without a loss this season.
But this was intense as it comes, and that Villa goal came with a team short from those yellow flags and red cards.
“We could not give up at home, in the Yankee Stadium, not in a derby with our fans,” said head coach Domenec Torrent. “Especially in the second half we played 9 against 11. You can lose, but you have to change the attitude because we had a plan that was not the one we saw in the first half.”
And in contrast to their meeting last month, NYCFC got the 1-0 win at Yankee Stadium, this was more intense. It got to the point of believing that officials on the field were traffic cops with all the yellow and red that they displayed.
Then again, this is the Hudson River Derby and soccer fans around here look at this rivalry as more intense than Yankees-Red Sox, and there have been many of those barn burners over the years in the Bronx.
Again, important implications with the outcome and at this juncture of the season. NYCFC came out with the 4-3-2 in the second half, two players and what the coach calls “A fixed three players.” Three players in the middle, and Torrent said that’s when you can play the game they call football.
Villa, coming off a knee injury scored his 10th goal. He felt that intensity and experienced the most intense game in this rivalry, perhaps more intense than the past two seasons when NYCFC was eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Leave it to Villa who got that goal to the back of the net. And how Villa pointed out that two strikers would be significant to the outcome.
“We needed a lot of effort from the two strikers because we had one player out,” he said. “We needed a majority of time to be closer to their box not close to our box because with one player less if we are closer to our box they can score because they have good players in the attacking side.”
Take the key injury to Alexander Callens and without Ronald Matarrita (Red Card), this also accounts for a hard earned draw that Kept NYCFC in the running for that top spot in the East.
“Whether it’s nine men, we could have played the game with seven, goalie Sean Johnson said. “It didn’t matter how many men we had out there, we still would have pressed on to try and win the game. I thought our intensity was incredible. Being down one man isn’t easy, being down two men isn’t easy.”
Two prior games were not as intense against Toronto and a 2-0 loss at Philadelphia. But this, as good as it comes for NYCFC.
“It’s more than getting more than three points,” Jonathon Lewis said. “ It’s a pride thing to see who the best is in the city We worked really hard today There was fight today.” And plenty of fight with red and yellow as the Red Bulls have only one win in their last six meetings of league play against NYCFC
To be continued and more intense if they clash again with more on the line.
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