NYCFC completed a memorable double over Red Bulls with a 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium. First-half goals from Alex Callens and Santiago Rodríguez – the first within a minute – claimed a deserved win in the Hudson River Derby, clinching two league wins from two against Gerhard Struber’s side. The triumph moved City to within a point of our rivals and within touching distance of a playoff place.
NYCFC 2 New York Red Bulls 0
The 21st edition of the Derby saw third and fourth place in the Eastern Conference go head-to-head with City in the knowledge they book a playoff spot this weekend, dependent on results elsewhere.
The home side headed into the clash boasting the bragging rights, following July’s 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena, and reinvigorated from Wednesday night’s historic Campeones Cup triumph.
Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing made two changes to the team that triumphed over Atlas F.C., as Captain Sean Johnson and Talles Magno were restored to a 3-4-2-1 starting XI in place of Luis Barraza and the injured Héber. Despite concerns over his availability, Maxime Chanot also started the game, while Anton Tinnerholm made a welcome return to the bench.
Cushing had called upon the bumper home crowd of 30,151 to replicate the electric atmosphere of the midweek Cup Final, and the decibels cranked up a notch with the Boys in Blue breaking the deadlock with less than minute played.
As was the case on Wednesday, it was Callens with the early opener – the earliest goal ever scored in the fixture – courtesy of another set-piece. The Defender nodded home from close range after just 50 seconds, beating Goalkeeper Carlos Coronel to Rodriguez’s delivery, as the Uruguayan kept Maxi Moralez’s corner alive by hooking towards the penalty spot. A dream start.
Callens then produced more heroics at the other end, somehow thwarting Luquinhas on the goalline as Red Bulls looked to capitalize on a loose ball in the box.
Heeding the warning, the home side looked to be clean through on 20 minutes with Nico Acevedo looking to play Gabriel Pereira in, only for the Brazilian to slip on the chase – but the hosts would not have to wait much longer to double the lead. Once again, it came from a set-piece. With Red Bulls only able to half-clear, Pereira swung the ball back into the danger zone, reaching Rodríguez, who controlled well and slid the ball into the bottom corner to spark jubilant scenes in sky blue.
Rodríguez could have added to either his goal or assist tally a matter of minutes later, Caught in two minds, he opted to square rather than shoot and the cross was hacked away. Causing havoc for the Red Bulls, he then won a free-kick, which Moralez curled over the bar.
The visitors thought they had halved the deficit before the break, only for VAR to rule Elias Manoel’s rebound out for offside after Aaron Long’s header had bounced back off the post. With the away side pressing for a route back into the contest, Cristian Cásseres Jr had already gone close with a deflected effort and Daniel Edelman drilled off-target, as New York preserved a two-goal cushion heading into halftime.
The second half bore far fewer chances for both sides. Desperate for a goal, Red Bulls carved more of the goalmouth but did little to really trouble the City defense.
Johnson was called into action eight minutes after the restart, diving bravely at the feet of Manoel, in their best chance of breaching the backline, before Caden Clark smashed high into the stands.
Long and Omir Fernandez would also see attempts suffer the same fate, while Moralez went close in search of a late third to add further gloss to the scoreline.
In what would be another special night at Yankee Stadium, the hosts held firm to cruise to a precious three points, retaining the local bragging rights and inching closer to the playoffs with a spot all but secured.
The MLS regular season pauses for an international break until Sunday, 2 October when New York City welcome Orlando City to Red Bull Arena.. (YES / ESPN+ / Fox 35 Plus Orlando /NYCFC.com/Radio)