Only seven games into the series, there have been some memorable Hudson River Derby matches already. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Photo)
By Michael Lewis
When the Red Bulls and New York City FC walk onto the Red Bull Arena field Saturday, it will mark the eighth time these two archrivals will meet in a little over two years.
The Red Bulls lead the series, 6-1.
With seven previous confrontations — some memorable ones — it is time to rank the various Hudson River Derby matches.
So, here goes:
1. Red Bulls 7, NYCFC 0 (May 21, 2016)
No one saw it coming. Not the Red Bulls and certainly not NYCFC. I mean, how many times do you see soccer games include seven goals, let alone one team scoring them all as the visitors? Again and again and again, the Red Bulls’ press forced NYCFC into mistakes and into goals before a crowd of 37,848 at Yankee Stadium. A Bradley Wright-Phillips goal in first-half stoppage essentially broke City’s back with a three-goal halftime bulge. Dax McCarty headed home two goals, BWP had another and Alex Muyl, Gonzalo Veron and Gideon Baah scored their first goals for the Red Bulls. In the history of the derbies in the world, the scoreline is one of the most confounding.
“It was a disaster for us. All bad. All bad,” NYCFC captain David Villa said. “The best thing about this is we only lost three points. This was our worst day. The only thing we can do is forget the day, forget the game.”
Jesse Marsch had another take.
“Incredible performance,” he said. “A bunch of guys on the field who wanted to express how much they wanted it. And it’s been a tough start of the season for us, no doubt. But I felt like in all ways we wanted to go out and make this a performance that we can hang our hat on, that we can say, ‘Now we’re turning a corner. It’s a big game. And we’re going to do everything we can to put it on our terms.’ “
2. NYCFC 2, Red Bulls 0 (July 3, 2016)
A little more than a month after the other debacle, City restored some of its dignity with a vital home shutout at Yankee Stadium before 33,613 spectators in its lone win to date. Jack Harrison and Villa tallied for the hosts, who salvaged one game in the series.
“I always say the same thing when we win or when we lose,” Villa said. “It’s three points more. This game is the same important as the next game in New York or the next game in Seattle. For the supporters, it’s a little bit different. We are happy to give this to the supporters. They deserved it a lot of games ago.”
3. Red Bulls 4, NYCFC 1 (July 24, 2016)
Every derby needs a little controversy. Well, on this day, there was a lot of controversy. Let’s see if we can put it in a nutshell without breaking the internet. Prior to the match, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch complained about how the Red Bulls were not getting calls from referee. City head coach Patrick Vieira was ejected from the match in the 34th minute because he had left the coaching box. Vieira claimed that Marsch’s comments set up referee Mark Geiger to call the third and final match of the derby in the hosts’ favor. He and ripped into his RBNY counterpart after the match. And oh yes, before we forget, BWP scored twice — again, and Ronald Zubar and Sacha Kljestan added one apiece. Tommy McNamara connected for NYCFC before 25,218 spectators at RBA.
4. Red Bulls 1, NYCFC 0 (June 14, 2017)
In the only there’s no tomorrow match of this rivalry, the Red Bulls got past City in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup fourth-round encounter at Red Bull Arena last Wednesday. NYCFC dominated the first half, but a calf injury to playmaking midfielder Maxi Moralez turned the tide for the hosts in the second half. Daniel Royer struck for the lone goal of the match in the 77th minute. The Red Bulls moved on to play and host the Philadelphia Union at RBA this Wednesday. An interesting tidbit: this was the lone Red Bulls derby match in which Luis Robles did not guard the net. Ryan Meara, a member of City;s 2015, side, registered the clean sheet. And this had the smallest crowd by far at 11,311. The Red Bulls, afraid of NYCFC fans filling up the stadium and taking away their home-field advantage, decided to price tickets at $65.
5. Red Bulls 2, NYCFC 1 (May 10, 2015)
There’s a first time for everything and this was the very first derby confrontation. A curious crowd of 25,217 turned out at RBA to watch the Red Bulls register the win. Despite playing the final 56 minutes a man down after Matt Miazga accrued his second yellow card of the match, the Red Bulls still prevailed. Wright-Phillips started his scoring prowess against City with a brace — one goal in each half — offsetting Patrick Mullins’ score.
“It was a great feeling to score in a derby,” Wright-Phillips said. “It always is.”
6. Red Bulls 3, NYCFC 1 (June 28, 2015)
A derby-record crowd of 48,047 packed Yankee Stadium to watch the Red Bulls continue their dominance. Wright-Phillips (two goals) and Chris Duvall connected on goals seven minutes into the second half after McNamara gave the hosts the lead. Miazga gave the Red Bulls some breathing room with a second-half score.
“We’re definitely excited about the three points, but to come against your rivals, especially with all the build-up that they’re trying to put into it, we understand that,” Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robes said. “It’s marketing. It’s going to be good for the league. We’re on board with that. But we want to make a statement that we were here first and this is our turf and we’ll continue to defend it.”
7. Red Bulls 2, NYCFC 0 (Aug. 9, 2015)
I’ll let my lede for Newsday in its Aug. 10, 2015 edition tell the story:
HARRISON, N.J. — Curses, foiled again.
New York City FC coach Jason Kreis’ frustration was never more apparent on national TV and on the replay screens at Red Bull Arena as he cursed to no one in particular after the Red Bulls scored the first goal of what turned into a 2-0 defeat Sunday night.
It was the third time in as many matches that NYC FC fell to its Hudson River rivals in as the teams concluded their first regular-season derby.
OK, back to the present. BWP found the net again, as did Felipe before 25,219, the largest derby crowd at RBA.
Oh yeah, back to Kreis, who was seen cursing when Wright-Phillips scored the first goal from point-blank range off a marvelous Kemar Lawrence feed in the 21st minute in which defender Jefferson Mena slipped trying for the ball.
“Their player fouled us, but [the referee] gave them the ball,” Kreis said. “It was a ridiculous call. It led directly to their goal. From my point of view, he was very poor tonight.”