For the third time this season, the New York Red Bulls will take on New York City F.C. But this occasion has a special feel to it.
Unlike the previous two fixtures, NYCFC will have Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard at their disposal. The addition of these Designated Players doesn't mean that they're infallible though.
Last week, Frank Lampard made his debut in what ended up being a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Impact. New York City conceded two goals in a row, one from Dominic Oduro and another from Ignacio Piatti, from long balls. They managed to pull one back through David Villa, but a late penalty converted by Ignacio Piatti restored the Impact's 2 goal lead. NYCFC managed to score a minute later, but it ultimately wasn't enough.
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While NYCFC might be able to field the league's most potent offense, this match underscored that its their defense that is their undoing. With 31 goals scored and 33 goals conceded, New York's blue team has been able to keep a shutout in only three MLS matches. For some added perspective, two of those shutouts happened back in March. Josh Saunders is also second in the league for shots faced, with 111 shots having been fired towards his net.
New York City has also been struggling to find the form that saw them labelled as the league's hottest team a little over a month ago. Since the last Hudson Derby, they've won twice, lost twice, and tied once.
The Red Bulls, on the other hand, are currently MLS's hottest team, riding a 4-game unbeaten run. They have only conceded 25 goals, an Eastern Conference best. They might also be joined by newly signed Designated Player Gonzalo Veron.
"We're hopeful that all the paperwork gets cleared and that he's [Veron] available in which case he'd be available for the game," said Marsch. "It's been good to get him going and have him in training. He looks good."
The return of Damien Perinelle from suspension will provide the Red Bulls a significant boost in the back, and will most likely send Karl Ouimette to the bench.
The Red Bulls are currently in second place (9-6-6) in the Eastern Conference, while NYCFC languish in eighth (6-10-6).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
For the New York Red Bulls, Dax McCarty will be the most important player on the field. Although he might not be the most dangerous, he'll be tasked with breaking up any attacks that Pirlo and Lampard orchestrate before they reach the back line. For the opposition, David Villa will be their go-to player. While Pirlo may be the one receiving more touches, the tricky Spaniard has proven time and time again that he can score if given a fraction of an inch.
LAST TIME THEY PLAYED
The last time these two teams met was at Yankee Stadium, with the Red Bulls taking the bragging rights in a 3-1 win. Goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips, Chris Duvall, and Matt Miazga helped the Red Bulls overcome an early tally from Thomas McNamara.
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2-1, Red Bulls. New York City will have some fun with their new weapons, but their defensive woes and RBNY's midfield cohesion will be too much to overcome.