This is it. The match that all New York Red Bulls fans and players have been looking forward to since 2-0 defeat to the hands of NYCFC at the end of June. The loss is coincidentally the last loss the Red Bulls have suffered as the club has won its last six matches in all competitions.
It seems like the perfect time to face New York City again as the Red Bulls are in blistering goal scoring form. They have scored 12 goals in their last three matches with Daniel Royer leading the way, netting five of the 12. The team has looked revolutionized under the new system Jesse Marsch has implemented and cannot seem to contain their offensive fluidity.
Sasha Kljestan is also rejuvenated and looking like the player he used to be. Feared, dangerous and always in the right spot, Kljestan has been able to find more space and time on the ball in the three at the back formation, allowing him to pick the right passes and create chances for other teammates. He was a ghost in the 2-0 loss to NYCFC at Red Bull Arena, so the team will hope he can carry his recent form into this massive derby match.
Much like the offense, the Red Bulls defense has also improved massively. The team has conceded just three goals in their last four MLS matches and has kept back to back clean sheets against both Minnesota United and the Montreal Impact. Switching to the 3 defenders has made the back line of the Red Bulls much more compact and forces them to play as a unit. With wingers Alex Muyl and Tyler Adams tracking back and Felipe as defensive midfield coverage, the team looks more solid than ever.
One player that could feature in the match is Gold Cup silver medalist Kemar Lawrence. “Taxi” has been on international duty with Jamaica since the beginning of July, so the club will be very excited to have him back on the field. His free kick goal in the semi finals against Mexico was celebrated by Red Bulls fans across social media and ended up being the goal that sent his nation to the Finals.
It will be odd to hear, but finding a place for him in the team may be a bit of a challenge for Marsch. It will mean he needs to sit one of the players in the backline that have been playing so well together as of recent. Sadly, Sal Zizzo could be the one to find himself on the bench. Zizzo has been vital in recent Red Bulls lineups, injecting pace and experience into the team and holding down the defense.
New York City has seen a rollercoaster of results since their victory over the Red Bulls, winning just two of their last five matches. The club recently was dismantled by an angry Toronto FC team, losing 4-0 in part due to a Sebastian Giovinco brace.
New York City’s defensive struggled are starting to show again as well. They have let in 11 goals in their last five, so it is not the best time for the Red Bulls to come to town. Patrick Vieira will need to patch the back line if he wants to come out of this match with any kind of positive result.
The run the Red Bulls have been on has seen the club climb all the way up to fourth place. A win would leapfrog them over NYCFC and into third place with a game in hand. This would be a massive boost for the fans, who just a few weeks ago were a bit worried the team would struggle to make the playoffs. A win would also split the season series at one a piece in the league with just one more meeting to go at the end of August.
Seeing out a victory would be a phenomenal result for the Red Bulls, but getting a draw away from home in a derby would not be the worst result. Traveling to the Bronx has never been an easy task for any club, and this season is no expectation. NYCFC has lost just one match this season at home, so the Red Bulls should expect a tough 90 minute match ahead of them.