Building a derby: 5 key moments thus far between NYCFC and the New York Red Bulls
Kicking off: May 10, 2015
You’ll always remember your first. The Red Bulls hosted the first-ever meeting between the two clubs just two months after NYCFC’s began playing competitive matches, and they established what would become an early dominance in the series.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a brace to lead his team to a 2-1 victory. He needed just four minutes to open his account against NYCFC, one which tallied up to 10 goals through the first six games, including a brace on four separate occasions. Matt Miazga lasted only 36 minutes before picking up his second yellow card, but BWP scored his second goal for his decimated team, and the Red Bulls held on after conceding late. (Highlights)
This match may not have had the fireworks of more notable affairs, but for Major League Soccer, it was finally a true derby (even if in New Jersey) featuring a team from New York City proper. Establishing that was a longtime vision for the league, and served as the precursor to another inter-city derby in Los Angeles, which kicked off in 2018.
U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round: June 14, 2017
We’re yet to get a Hudson River Derby in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but the 2017 season brought an Open Cup meeting in the fourth round -- relatively early for two MLS teams to meet, but part of the game in the quasi-regional layout of the competition.
The stage was set for the rivalry to get its own platform on a weeknight, when it wasn’t tied to any commercialized “Rivalry Week” backdrop. Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch was suspended for the match, having been sent off in the team’s last match in the 2016 Open Cup after an epic tirade. NYCFC had its moments in the first half, including Tommy McNamara’s shot which hit the bar, bounced back up and hit the bar a second time, but didn’t go in.
Daniel Royer entered the match at the start of the second half and scored the lone goal to push the Red Bulls into the Round of 16. They fell short of their first Open Cup title with a loss to Sporting Kansas City in the final, but the victory pushed them on in an important knockout match and continued their dominance over NYCFC: The win was a sixth in seven meetings between the teams.
Villa finally one-ups BWP: August 6, 2017
Bradley Wright-Phillips still owns this series, but David Villa’s big marker was laid down late in the 2017 season. Naturally, El Capitan’s first MLS hat-trick came against the Red Bulls. His second goal was an absolute peach. Villa collected the ball near midfield and wove his way into the 18-yard box for the finish.
BWP was, as usual, the antagonist in this one, scoring twice to keep the game tight. Villa’s tally from the penalty spot ultimately decided the match. It was an important victory for NYCFC after a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Toronto FC a week earlier, and it kicked off a five-game unbeaten streak.
Coaches and ‘crying’: July 24, 2016
This is where things got juicy. The week leading up to this sixth-ever meeting was marked by Marsch playing mind games in the media, declaring that NYCFC had been getting preferential treatment from referees. Marsch was fined for his comments, but it was a small price to pay for the long play.
Vieira was uncharacteristically rattled and heated in the moment. He was sent off in the first half for leaving his technical area to confront referee Mark Geiger, and then he exchanged words with Marsch on his very slow exit to the tunnel. Marsch then accused Vieira of refusing to shake hands in the hallway after the match. It was the type of defining moment a rivalry needs to be, you know, a rivalry.
“I think today [referee Mark Geiger] made more decisions in favor of the Red Bulls because the manager has been crying all week,” Vieira told reporters after the match.
Forgive us if we wish this carried on, but each coach has taken a more muted approach toward the other in the buildup to the first meeting of 2018. C’mon, guys: This is New Yawk. There’s always some beef.
The Red Wedding: May 21, 2016
New York was red for the entirety of 2015. The Red Bulls won all three meetings, but NYCFC was not played off the park. The first meeting of 2016 will never be forgotten by either side, even if NYCFC wishes it could.
The Red Bulls went into Yankee Stadium and dropped a hammer, defeating NYCFC 7-0 in one of the all-time embarrassing results.
The seven-goal victory remains tied for the largest margin of victory in MLS history. It’s unlikely to disappear from the record books anytime soon – no matter how much NYCFC would like it to.