The Red Bulls celebrate Gonzalo Veron’s penalty-kick conversion. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — Things usually have a way of evening themselves out at the end of the day.
On Friday night, that wasn’t the case for New York City FC and the Red Bulls in their 1-1 draw in the Hudson River Derby at Red Bull Arena.
There was little question the Red Bulls were the superior team. They outshot City 21-9. They held the ball for 61.9 percent of the time, although it seemed much, much more. They also hit the woodwork twice on either side of halftime.
Second-place NYCFC (14-7-5 47 points) knew it escaped with a precious road point, even if the visitors failed to keep pace with Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC (15-3-8, 53).
“I will take the points. I’m really happy with the points,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said. “We played against a really good team that made it difficult for us. ”
Despite their domination, the fourth-place Red Bulls (12-10-3, 39) walked out of RBA a frustrated side, knowing they deserved better in what turned into the first tie in the 10-game rivalry that has spanned three seasons.
“A draw feels like a big disappointment because of the way we played and the way we dominated most of the match,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said.
It wasn’t meant to be for the hosts, although they tried and endured a trying experience and eventually a tying experience.
Three minutes into first-half stoppage time, an overlapping Michael Murillo hammered a close-range attempt off the right post.
Two minutes after the interval, Felipe’s long-range try hit the crossbar.
You would think that a goal for the Red Bulls was just right around the corner, but that wasn’t the case.
Midfielder Maxi Moralez scored against the run of play in the 56th minute as he slotted home a beautiful back-heel pass from David Villa from 12 yards past goalkeeper Luis Robles for his fourth goal of the season.
“It’s a funny game sometimes,” Marsch said. “How many sports does a team dominate and be down 1-0?”
The Red Bulls equalized on a 70th-penalty kick after a rather dubious call by referee Jair Marrufo.
Marrufo ruled that defender RJ Allen, who came on for Ethan White in the 30th minute, had knocked down Sacha Kljestan in the penalty area, although it appeared the Red Bulls’ star midfielder went down way too easy.
“I don’t have to say anything more,” Viera said. “It was really smart from Kljestan. I think he was on the ball. He was really smart. And he fooled everything. It wasn’t a penalty at all. It was really soft. And when you look at David’s header and you look at it, it was clearly a hand ball.”
Vieira wasn’t finished.
“I’m disappointed because when you have the VR
and you see the replay and keep a penalty, I’m just asking myself, why did we spend so much time opening our door for people to come to explain to us what is the VR job and what they’re going to do and what will happen,” he said. “It’s really disappointing for us on that side.”
Gonzalo Veron, who replaced Sean Davis in the 64th minute, converted the ensuing post past goalkeeper Sean Johnson for his third goal this season — all as a super sub — for a 1-1 tie in the 70th minute.
With the Red Bulls’ domination, you would think that there was another goal in their arsenal, but that wasn’t to be the case.
“They came in and sat so deep,” Marsch said. “I don’t recall them sitting so deep ever. They had a lot of respect for us.”
Perhaps too much respect.