The Hudson River Derby has always been a high energy matchup, with both sides routinely finding new ways to break each other down to gain an edge. This time, however, at Red Bull Arena, it was a referee’s decision that irked the blue side of New York and paved the way for a two goals to one Red Bulls victory.
Daniel Royer tallied twice for the Red Bulls, as the home side earned the full three points. He converted from the spot inside first half stoppage time, as Brian White was fouled inside the NYCFC penalty area.
White was played in by a looping ball from Alex Muyl, placed perfectly in front of the striker who was making a run towards the net. When the ball arrived, NYCFC defender Maxime Chanot raised his right foot and struck White around his upper chest area.
Referee Alan Kelly pointed to the spot and Royer ripped the ball hard and high into the near upper corner to level the match at one. The game-winner in the second half had a bit of a officiating controversy, though.
In the 60th minute, the Red Bulls got the decisive goal when the ball was quickly played back in via a throw in. Marc Rzatkowski quickly passed to Cristian Casserers Jr., who whipped in a beautiful cross to the box, where Royer snapped a header that beat Sean Johnson to the far post.
The controversy lies with the officiating crew: Alan Kelly and his near side assistant, Corey Rockwell. When the ball went out, Rockwell originally pointed to the near side corner flag, signaling a corner kick, but Kelly overruled and motioned for a throw-in. So, the Red Bulls threw it in, but NYCFC did not hear or see the change, and they prepared to defend a corner.
“I have to say congratulations to Corey [Rockwell], the assistant, because this man was not brave, because he indicated corner,” NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent said.
“I said, ask Alex [Callens] if he indicated corner, and he said it’s a corner, and what happened? Everyone knows what happened. We are not ready. When they decide it’s a corner, we are ready for the corner. They play fast and we know that, because they play fast for the throw ins.
“Today, I am so sorry for the soccer, because it is not fair what happened in this game. I am so sorry, I don’t like to talk about the refs. But tonight how can you not talk about the refs, because everyone knows what happened tonight. We were ready for the corner, then they say throw in.”
Midway through the second half, members of the media were given this message regarding the situation:
While the Red Bulls got the full three points in this one, their first half was subpar, as their passes and crosses were absolutely poor. When Heber converted his chance in the seventh minute, it came via a beautiful cross from Anton Tinnerholm who was sprung by Maxi Morales.
New York City FC played a great opening half before the penalty was given by Referee Alan Kelly, and that late first half penalty changed everything. At the end of ninety minutes (plus nine additional), the team in red earned the victory.
“We had a good start to the game and no real surprises, because we thought coming in, with general principles with the ball, they valued possession, but we knew they had a plan with direct play,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said.
“It's so much easier when you are on the outside to understand the solutions. But when they are putting guys ten yards offsides into your half, it makes your backline uncomfortable.
“It forces you to put your guys into a passive mode, so maybe they are setting our line in the back, when we aren’t doing it. We are best when we are aggressive stepping out, but they had three guys parked centrally, this makes it difficult.
“We made them uncomfortable tonight, all night. They are good in transition as they have good players, Our guys were aggressive, our guys went after it at the opening whistle. I’m very proud of how our guys went after it. We were down a goal, found gaps, came back and got the winner.”
With part one of the Hudson River season series finished, the Red Bulls will now travel for another two-game road trip, heading north to Toronto for a midweek match on Wednesday before flying south to Central Florida where they will take on Orlando City next Sunday.