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Preview: The first Derby of the year kicks off at Red Bull Arena

With NYCFC flying high, the Red Bulls look to knock them down a peg

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Los Angeles Galaxy Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was all smiles for the New York Red Bulls in their last match as Kaku scored a penalty kick to win the game. The 3-2 victory over the LA Galaxy was just what the team needed before their first Hudson River Derby of the season. It is shaping up to be one of the most entertaining derby matches in the relatively new rivalry, with NYCFC looking stronger than ever.

This season, instead of having just one spear-headed attacker in David Villa, NYC have a trident. Maximilliano Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi share in Villa’s goal scoring glory, with all three players scoring four goals so far this season. This incredibly dangerous attack force will have the Red Bulls defense on high alert for the full 90 minutes as Aaron Long and company will have their hands full.

Aarong Long spoke to reporters about the NYC attack after their Wednesday training session, saying, “It’s a very tough game, very tough team, very good attacking group, i feel like this will be similar to LA (Galaxy).”

While this is true, as both teams have quite a few weapons going forward, NYC has proven this year that they do not need to rely on just one player to do all the work. Their 20 point haul this season has only exemplified how well this team is doing.

Young midfielder Jesus Medina has also been lighting up the league, scoring and assisting two goals on the year. The 21 year old Paraguayan has the second most minutes on the team and is clearly favored by Patrick Vieira. Medina’s contributions when Villa has been absent have kept City on top of the MLS, and they only look to be improving as the season goes on.

Luckily for the Red Bulls, Bradley Wright-Phillips cannot slow down this season either. The leading goal scorer on the team is now also the leading assist man as BWP notched two more assists against the Galaxy. His playmaking abilities are a welcome sight to the Red Bulls team that was supposedly going to miss having Sacha Kljestan pulling the strings from midfield.

Also filling in the gap left by Kljestan is midfielder Florian Valot. Another great performance, this time coming off the bench, has put Jesse Marsch is a tough spot ahead of the derby. Does he go with a midfield of Sean Davis, Tyler Adams and Valot, or does he bring Valot off the bench to start with another defender, like he did against the Galaxy.

The latter would be the safe option and, quite honestly the probable one that Marsch will take going into the match. It is one thing to be confident going into a match, but underestimating the City attack would be just plain stupid. As much as it pains many Red Bulls fans to hear, Aurelien Collin could get another start.

Daniel Royer should also see a start in this match. Royer finally got his first goal of the season over the weekend, breaking his six match dry streak in all competitions. His return to form will be warmly welcomed at Red Bull Arena and there will not be a better time to score again than this match. Playing off of BWP has had its moments this year, so look for the two to continue to try and link up,

The Red Bulls have dominated the Hudson River Derby since it first started, but this is the strongest NYCFC has been since their introduction into the league. Their team is playing at a frightening pace and Vieira has finally figured out a system in MLS that gets him the results he needs.

That being said, Red Bull Arena has been and always will be a fortress for the team to play at. The stadium should see a lot of fans from both teams showing up to support, so the atmosphere inside and out will create quite the buzz. As long as the Red Bulls stick to their style of play, they can come out on top and grab a much needed derby win.