There are few things more satisfying than quieting 68,000 people in a matter of seconds. Bradley Wright-Phillips did just that against Atlanta United with his 90th minute stoppage time goal.
The thrilling narrative with Atlanta produced another classic as the two battled it out to a 3-3 draw. A brace by the league’s poster child Josef Martinez, plenty of physical challenges, and end to end action for the full 90 minutes produced a simply thrilling football match.
Coming off a strong contender for MLS match of the year, the Red Bulls now look forward to another rivalry as the blue team, NYCFC, comes to Harrison. The two have not faced off since Aug. 22 of last year, but the bitterness never dies between these two clubs.
NYCFC is ahead of the Red Bulls in the standings by a single point. Their season has been filled with draw after draw, but those single points have added up. A fruitful June and beginning of July catapulted them up the table, but recent performances have supporters worried.
A tough 1-0 loss at home to the surging Portland Timbers was followed by a dramatic loss to Orlando City in the Open Cup quarterfinals. The team has played four matches in the past two weeks; ending with a trip to Red Bull Arena must feel like cruel and unusual punishment.
Apart from the last two matches, the City FC offense has been in tremendous form. MLS Player of the Month Maxi Moralez continues to lead this team in the wake of David Villa’s departure. The crafty Argentine put on a show against the Union just a few weeks back, grabbing a brace and two assists against the best team in the East.
Another key part of the NYC offense has been Brazilian forward Heber. With five goals in his last six appearances, Heber has been just what NYCFC needed going forward. An injury has kept him on the sidelines since the beginning of June, but he could very well make his return in the Derby.
The Red Bulls will also have some key players returning to action. Aaron Long and Michael Murillo should be fit for this match after missing the Atlanta fixture. Long was still recovering from his Gold Cup call-up, while Murillo was serving a one-match suspension for his red card against Houston.
One interesting problem the Red Bulls, more specifically Chris Armas, has is whether or not to start BWP. The prolific forward finally seems fully fit after his injury, and any Red Bull supporter knows just how deadly he can be against NYCFC.
The only problem is that his replacement is in the best form of his young career. Brian White has done more than just fill-in during BWP’s absence, he leads the team with six goals and looks to be getting better with each start.
From an outsider's perspective, it is easy to say BWP should simply resume his starting position, but benching players solely on seniority is something Armas has shown he does not do. Result aside, the Red Bulls did start with two up top against the Houston Dynamo a couple matches back, so that is always an option.
Armas has yet to beat NYCFC as head coach of the Red Bulls, losing the first meeting and drawing the second despite City being down to nine men, albeit on the small Yankee Stadium field. NYCFC has had the edge in this Derby since his appointment, so whether Armas admits it or not, this match means a lot for the Red Bulls both in the standings and in this rivalry.
The match will also set the tone for the next derby, which takes place on Aug. 24, during Heineken Rivalry Week. It may take a few minutes to get the rivalry feeling back between these two, but once it starts, expect another fast-paced match loaded with hard hitting challenges and nonstop action.