One of the best rivalries in MLS is back for a midweek showdown. The second place New York Red Bulls take on NYCFC in what should be another fantastic Hudson River Derby.
This seems like the perfect time for the Red Bulls to be taking on NYCFC, as the smurfs have been on a bit of a slide as of late. With just one win in their last four, City is struggling at a crucial stage in the season.
The defense needs to be at fault for City’s recent dip in form. They have allowed nine goals in their previous four matches and the team cannot catch a break with injuries.
Sean Johnson and Brad Stuver have been splitting time in net for the past few weeks, which can be tough for a defense to adjust to. Johnson was recovering from a shoulder injury but has since recovered and is expected to start against the Red Bulls.
David Villa has also been struggling a bit with injury this season. He missed a few matches in the last few months, but his replacement Jo Inge Berget did his fair share of work. Both players, when on their game, can be a handful for Luis Robles and the Red Bulls defense.
Fortunately, the Red Bulls boast the best defensive record in the whole of MLS. Praise has been heaped on Aaron Long and Tim Parker all season as they put in countless outings filled with strong tackles and smart defensive plays.
One defensive hiccup Chris Armas needs to solve is replacing Michael Murillo for this match. Murillo picked up a red card against the Vancouver Whitecaps last match in the 84th minute.
This will be a blow not only to the Red Bulls defense, but also their ability to counter. Murillo has been a great outlet for the team when they do spring a counter attack, bombing down the right side of the pitch.
Murillo’s crossing that follows the counter attack runs are the main reason for his involvement in the attack. He can often pick out Bradley Wright-Phillips or Daniel Royer at the far post, creating dangerous chances for easy tap in goals.
Connor Lade is the obvious replacement for Murillo in this match. Lade was the starter during the last Hudson River Derby back in early July when City won 1-0.
The resurgence of Royer in the recent weeks has been a welcome sight for the Red Bulls supporters. Royer had a slow start to the season, but his five goals and one assist in the last four matches have led the Red Bulls to some vital points.
A strong performance against City for Royer and BWP will be mandatory. The shutout loss at Yankee Stadium on July 8th was such a disappointing result for the team.
Armas caught a lot of flack for making just the one single substitution in the 88th minute of that match. Since then, Armas has proven his worth in terms of team selection and substitutions. If a problem should arise in this match, expect him to waste no time in changing things.
This is such an important derby for both teams at this point in the season. The Red Bulls still have three more matches to play before they finally get more than three days rest, meaning the players will be quite tired after their trip to Vancouver.
It is hard seeing too many changes to the lineup despite all the travel and lack of rest. City is just a point behind the Red Bulls in the east, so these matches are even more important.
With an upcoming match at home against DC United, the Red Bulls know they need to get this win away from home. A 2-2 result at BC Place was a solid result, but a draw will not be as warmly welcomed in the Hudson River Derby.