It's time to see if we should believe the hype. The first match in what could be the next great American soccer rivalry between New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls is finally here.
The Red Bulls have slowed down significantly since their hot start, seeing their unbeaten run snapped at the hands of the New England Revolution. With the Revs being their third matchup in a week, Jesse Marsch decided to rest leading goalscorers Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam. He also gave four players their first starts of the season, with Connor Lade, Sean Davis, Karl Ouimette, and Dane Richards all starting the match.
New England found the back of the net early, thanks to a 9th minute goal from Charlie Davies. They went on to dominate the rest of the first half, with RBNY struggling to find their footing. Teal Bunbury added a second goal in the 60th minute. Sacha Kljestan would pull one back 13 minutes later, but the Red Bulls were not threatening enough to pull level.
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With just 1 win in their last 5 matches, the Red Bulls need a win to show that they're legitimate title contenders. Despite having two games in hand, they currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference.
If there's any team that needs a win more than RBNY right now, it's their friends from across the Hudson. NYCFC are currently in the middle of a three game skid, and have been unable to earn a full three points since March 15 against the Revs.
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Last week showed the Blues exactly what they need to improve on if they are to beat the Red Bulls. After being torched for two by Obafemi Martins and then beaten for another by Clint Dempsey, Jason Kreis was shaken.
"It doesn't sit well with me," Kreis said. "I guess I didn't realize it would be this difficult."
Although the team's adjustment to the league has been difficult, the club doesn't seemed phased by Sunday's encounter. Their only focus seems to be preparing for the match, with the club maintaining radio silence in the days leading up to the match.
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Who to Watch
RBNY: Bradley Wright-Phillips. The reigning Golden Boot winner got a decent amount of rest against New England, despite a late cameo. He should be ready to go for Sunday and hopefully, he'll be his usual self.
NYCFC: David Villa. The diminutive Spaniard has been plagued with a recurring adductor strain, but made an appearance against Seattle. El Guaje can score from anywhere and will always be the most dangerous player for NYCFC if he's on the field.
- The Red Bulls are undefeated at home his season, with a record of 2-0-2.
- 3 players have suited up for both clubs: Ryan Meara, Mehdi Ballouchy, and Jason Hernandez
- The Red Bulls are currently tied for second in terms of goal differential, with a differential of +4.