Daniel Royer celebrates his game-winning goal with Alex Muyl. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — Add one intriguing and controversial chapter to the Hudson River Derby.
In fact, it might have been the most controversial chapter in the five-year history of this budding rivalry.
Midfielder Daniel Royer headed in the game-winning goal for the Red Bulls on the hour in their 2-1 comeback victory at Red Bull Arena Sunday night. But New York City FC apparently was angry that assistant referee Corey Rockwell did not do a good enough job of communicating whether the dead-ball situation that led to the goal was a corner kick or a throw-in.
The ball went out of bounds on the right side of the Red Bulls’ attacking third. At first, Rockwell signaled via his flag that it was a corner kick before pointing it toward the other direction for a throw-in.
Alex Muyl’s throw-in went to Marc Rzatkowski, who passed to Cristian Casseres Jr. on the right side of the area. Casseres, in turn, fed Royer, who headed it home from eight yards past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
It appeared that NYCFC did not apply pressure on the ball.
GOAL! That's Danny Royer's second of the match!
Posted by New York Red Bulls on Sunday, July 14, 2019
NYCFC players complained to referee Alan Kelly in vain and the goal stood as the Red Bulls improved their derby record to 5-1-1 at RBA. During FS1’s broadcast of the match, announcer JP Dellacamera said that Kelly had overruled Rockwell on the call, saying it was a throw-in.
There was no Video Assistant Referee used on the play.
Afterwards, a pool reporter asked Kelly why a corner kick wasn’t given.
“The referee overruled the AR because the referee was in a better position to judge that the ball went out for a throw-in,” Kelly responded.
“No ‘throw-in’ motion was made, and would not normally be made.
“The referee indicated verbally that the restart was a throw-in. Corner kick vs. throw-in decisions are not reviewable by the VAR.”
After Kelly sounded the final whistle, several NYCFC players vented their frustrations at the game officials, including an incensed head coach Dome Torrent.
Torrent said NYCFC “had anticipated a corner, we are not ready because when they decided it’s corner, we are ready for the corner.”
“I’m so sorry for the soccer, because it’s not fair what happened in this game, I’m so sorry,” he added. “Sometimes I don’t like to talk about the refs, but impossible, don’t talk about the refs tonight, and everybody knows what happened. You have a doubt, you can go see the TV. It’s clear. But it’s indicated corner, two seconds — and what happened after that, maybe it’s our mistake, but it’s not easy once they corner and you are ready for the corner, not for the throw.
“This is a mistake. They know. He decided the game. I said to him, you decide the game and you know that. You decide the game. You are not brave. You decide the game.”
NYCFC captain and midfielder Alex Ring concurred.
“I mean I think it’s pretty clear that the assistant shows down with his flag to play the corner kick, and if the referee feels it’s a throw-in, he should have the decency to let everyone know,” he said. “I think it’s a game-deciding situation. He has to look in the mirror and be brutally honest because he cost us the points today. I think we played a great game for the team, it was our sixth game in two weeks and it’s just a shame to lose the points because of… I thought the ref had a horrible game today, that’s what I think.”
Depending on your vantage point, either the Red Bulls were fortunate to walk off with a 1-1 halftime deadlock or NYCFC was unfortunate to do so.
That’s because the visitors outplayed the Red Bulls for most of the opening 45 minutes.
After the Red Bulls dominated the opening seven minutes, City struck quickly as overlapping right back Anton Tinnerholm fed Heber, who beat goalkeeper Luis Robles on the far post for a 1-0 advantage. It was Heber’s seventh goal in 11th matches.
The first half was defined by some superb goalkeeping by both sides.
Johnson’s finest moment came in the 23rd minute when he produced a one-handed save to deny a header by forward Brian White.
On the opposite end of the field four minutes later, Robles robbed Keaton Parks on a counterattack.
A minute into first-half stoppage time, the Red Bulls equalized on a penalty kick after NYCFC center back Maxime Chanot brought down White in the box. Royer hammered the ensuing penalty into the upper left corner to knot things up.
The Red Bulls came out with more energy in the second half and forced the issue.
After all the substitutions and talk about the last goal, 10 minutes of added time was needed to complete the match.