Bradley Wright-Phillips celebrates his first-half goal for the Red Bulls (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — Despite playing with a two-man disadvantage, New York City FC managed to register a 1-1 draw against the Red Bulls in the final Hudson River Derby encounter of the regular season Wednesday night.
City had two players sent off — one in each half — as the host team played the final 18 minutes of the match down two players at Yankee Stadium.
Each team finished with a 1-1-1 mark in the regular-season derby, although the Red Bulls also had earned a victory in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in June.
It was one of the most, if not the most physical game of the four-year series between the two rivals.
Referee Ted Unkel was like a human traffic light, awarding two red cards — both two NYCFC players — Eloi Amagat and Ebenezer Ofori — and six yellows. The Red Bulls were slapped with four yellow cards in a match that required seven minutes of second-half stoppage time.
Both teams had to make adjustments to their Starting XI as they were missing key players.
NYCFC had four players sidelined. Defender Alex Callens (knee), midfielder Valentin Castellanos (quad) and forward Jesus Medina (hamstring) were injured and defender Ronald Matarrita served a one-game suspension due to a red card he received vs. Philadelphia
The Red Bulls were missing right back Michael Amir Murillo, who was serving a red-card suspension.
The Red Bulls were rewarded for their dominating first-half play in an enemy stadium in the 37th minute as Bradley Wright-Phillips finished off some nifty ball-handling and passing from his teammates. After Tyler Adams sent Daniel Royer the ball on the left side, the Austrian midfielder crossed the ball into the middle of the penalty area. While going away from the net, BWP somehow got his head in a perfect position to to knock the ball past goalkeeper Sean Johnson for a 1-0 advantage.
Wright-Phillips has 12 goals in eight derby matches against City.
Three minutes later, life when from bad to worse for City as Amagat was given his marching orders in his team debut by Unkel for a rough tackle on Marc Rzatkowski, forcing the hosts to play a man down.
Despite playing with only 10 men, a revived NYCFC equalized in the 52nd minute. Jo Inge Berget headed down a Maxi Moralez high ball down to David Villa, who struck a shot from atop the box into the lower left corner past keeper Luis Robles for his 10th goal of the season and a 1-1 deadlock.
It was the fourth consecutive season in which the Spanish international cracked double digits for NYCFC.
NYCFC found itself with a two-man distance in the 72nd minute when Ofori was sent off for kicking Wright-Phillips in his leg when on attack.