The third and final edition of the local ‘Hudson River’ derby between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC kicks off at 7 pm on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ), and based on the increasingly competitive atmosphere in the past games, this third matchup promises to be a dandy.
Both teams have improved since the second game at Yankee Stadium back on June 28, when 48,047 fans sold out Yankee Stadium and witnessed the New York Red Bulls rally from a 1-0 halftime deficit to defeat New York City FC, 3-1, and secure area bragging rights. The Red Bulls hosted and won the first game, 2-1, in front of the first sellout crowd on May 10.
This second game saw an eclectic atmosphere at Yankee Stadium, with deafening sounds amid omnipresent colors of Red Bull Red on one level and NYCFC Powder Blue on another; the players fed off this atmosphere and produced a very competitive game, worthy of its derby billing.
Now, here comes the encore!
Since the last meeting, the Red Bulls (9-6-5, 32 pts.) climbed to second place in the Eastern Conference behind DC United after three straight wins: the Red Bulls beat New England Revs 4-1, Orlando, 2-0, and last Saturday knocked off Philadelphia, 3-1. Its only loss came in a 2-1 set-back at Columbus Crew back on July 4.
In the win at Philadelphia, new addition Shaun Wright-Phillips — brother of the team’s leading scorer, Bradley — had a very productive debut as he led the Red Bulls to its first win over the Union (6-13-4) this season. On entering the game in the 60th minute, he immediately caused problems for Philadelphia with his speed and forced Union defender Tranquillo Barnetta to foul him in the penalty area to set up Sacha Klejstan’s penalty for a 1-0 lead. Sebastien Le Toux tied the game for the home team, but Shaun Wright-Phillips went to work again in the 74th minute and used his speed again to fly past Union defender Ray Gaddis to find his brother for the winner and Bradley’s ninth goal of the season; Anatole Abang finished the scoring for the Red Bulls, which lost its two previous games this season against Philadelphia.
The Harrison team has added more fire power on Wednesday when it announced the signing of 25-year-old Argentine winger Gonzalo Veron from Club Atletico San Lorenzo in the Argentine Premiere Division, and according to Red Bulls coach, Jesse Marsch, the player is versatile.
“We are excited to add Gonzalo to our club,” said Marsch. “We think he fits into the style that we want to play. He is a young, exciting player with the ability to play a few different attacking roles. He has the potential to be a dynamic player in this league.”
New York City FC also added fire power to its squad and has made significant strides; the team went 2-2-1, winning twice, while dropping two games and tying one. Italian midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo, in his debut, scored and assisted in NFCFC’s biggest win of the season so far, a 5-3 thrashing of Orlando City FC on July 26. The week before, NYCFC was involved in another high-scoring game, a 4-4 draw versus Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium. Forward David Villa has picked up his game and has scored 11 goals so far, and Ghanaian midfielder Kwadwo Poku also has been a bright spot for the New Yorkers. The dependable Thomas McNamara is always coming up with the late goal to bail out his team on occasion.
The long-awaited debut of former England midfielder Frank Lampard came in the second half of a 3-2 home lost to Montreal Impact last Saturday, Aug. 1. Lampard’s presence made a big difference in the team, however, his introduction to the game came too late to make a difference in the outcome.
Lampard and Pirlo will make NYCFC a much better team, ditto Shaun Wright-Phillips and Veron across the river, which will make the ‘Hudson Derby’ an even more exciting event in the future. The experienced midfielders know what a thing or two about derbies; Wright-Phillips has had his share of derby days while playing in his native England with Premiere League clubs Manchester City and Chelsea. This Sunday’s final matchup between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC definitely promises to be a real dandy as NYCFC looks to salvage some respect in this local blockbuster.
In the MLS Eastern Conference, DC United (12-7-5, 41 pts.) remains atop the Conference with a 6-4 win over Real Salt Lake; New England Revolution knocked off Toronto FC, 3-1; Orlando City FC toppled Columbus Crew, 5-2; and Chicago Fire bettered FC Dallas, 2-0.
In the Western Conference, the surging Vancouver Whitecaps (12-8-3, 39 pts.) surged to the top the standings after it knocked off Seattle Sounders, 3-0, last weekend. Also in the West last week, Los Angeles Galaxy beat Colorado Rapids, 3-1; Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes played to a goalless draw and Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City played to a 1-1 tie.
In the local Caribbean Cup tournament at Jefferson Sports Complex in Flatlands, Brooklyn last Sunday, Team St. Kitts/Nevis beat Team Dominica 4- 0; Julian Bradshaw scored twice and Dahjal Kelly and Alister Warner once to carry the victors. In the other contest, Team Guyana knocked off Team St. Lucia, 2-0, behind goals from Devon Millington and Jahall Greaves.
On Sunday, July 26, Team Haiti upset defending champion Team Jamaica, 1-0, behind Exantus Johnny’s goal; and Team St. Lucia walloped Team Dominica, 4-0, when John Perry Joseph scored twice and Carlton Daniel and Leigh Marcellin scored as well.
On Sunday, Aug. 9, the Caribbean Cup All-stars take the field as the Eastern Division takes on the Western at 5 pm; there is a girls game at 1:30 pm when Cambria Heights SC plays Nehemiah International. At 3:15 pm, a men’s under-23 exhibition game is on as Hota Bavarians take on Brooklyn Soca Lions.