(NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez firing one by Red Bulls defender Aaron Long for his goal on Friday night – USA Today Sports)
New York City Football Club and the Red Bulls played to a 1-1 draw on Friday night at Red Bull Arena in their final regular season Hudson River Derby of the season.
The Red Bulls dominated the first half, with 63 percent possession and 15 shots, including a couple of big chances from Sean Davis, but they couldn’t connect, and it was scoreless at the half.
Right out of the break, in the 47th minute, Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl fired a rocket off the crossbar.
In the 54th minute, there was a breakdown in the NYCFC defense, and Sacha Kljestan came in alone on the right side, and fired it across the box to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who headed it wide left.
It appeared that Wright-Phillips was bumped by R.J. Allen as he went up for it and it possibly should have been called a penalty on Allen.
It’s possible that it should have gone to the new VAR video review system.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the play, “What happens with VAR so Bradley clearly gets contact, so it’s going to be a free header where he’s going to basically have the majority of the goal to hit the ball into. And it’s not going over his head. It’s going directly to him where he can score. He gets bumped before he hits the ball, and it alters the shot, which is a foul. It’s a foul. So it doesn’t get called.
“Then what you get with VAR is if it’s not clear and obvious, so it’s a little bit of a ‘tweener, if it were called a penalty, I don’t think it would have been reversed. But because it wasn’t called a penalty, it’s not reversed either. So, that’s the part that’s still the decision of the referee. And it should be.
“I still do think it should be in the referee’s hands. Right? But that call was not going to get reversed, I don’t think shall either way depending on what the call was. Am I explaining myself clearly? People are shaking their heads.”
Just a couple minutes later, it was NYCFC who had a rush up the field, and David Villa found Maxi Moralez, who buried it to make it 1-0.
The Red Bulls had chances soon after, as Muyl missed just to the right in the 60th and Fidel Escobar had a header that NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson made a big save on.
In the 69th minute, Kljestan was taken down by Allen in the box and, this time, Allen was called for a penalty.
The Red Bulls received a penalty kick, which was taken by Gonzalo Veron, and he drilled it to tie the game at 1.
With the draw, NYCFC now is 14-7-5, 47 points, in second place in the East. The Red Bulls are now 12-10-3, with 39 points, and moved into a tie for fourth with the Columbus Crew.
One big difference in this one compared to the last time they played was that the Red Bulls, particularly Aaron Long, kept NYCFC’s David Villa in check. Villa had a hat trick on August 6 at Yankee Stadium, and barely had a chance in this one.
Marsch said of that, “Yeah, Aaron was very good. Fidel was very good. Kemar didn’t make it very hard. So I felt like that back three was quite good. Their aggressiveness, athleticism, their intelligence, I think, bodes well for the future of what we’re doing here. So we’ve had to rotate a lot of guys on the back line. We’re trying to find in some ways our first-choice lineup. In other ways we know we can count on a lot of different guys based on what we’re going to see. We’ve challenged them all.
“Listen, if you want to be a big time center back and we play against big-time strikers, you’ve got to find a way to take care of them. David Villa, Giovinco, these guys are not easy to take care of. What great players they are and we’re lucky to have them in our league. But I think Aaron took a big step forward in his career tonight the way he played against Villa.”
Marsch said of what he felt when they got the goal on the penalty kick after all the chances they had before it came, “I was thinking it’s a funny game sometimes. Right? How many sports does a team dominate like that and then be down. But I wanted to make sure that our team was still aggressive and had confidence and went after the game. They did that. They were able to get themselves back in, and a draw feels like a big disappointment because of the way we played and the way we dominated most of the match.
“So, yeah, we’re going to continue to take this as a positive and know that we’re a good team and we’re moving in the right direction and not have a setback in any way.”
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of getting a point out of this one, “I think if we look at the first half and we look at the position that they had, the only time they hit the post was when Alex (Muyl) was out of the field. But I will take the points. And I’m really happy with the points because we played against a really good team who make it really difficult for us. So I’m happy with the points, yes.”
Marsch said of the Red Bulls’ disappointment about getting a draw at home, “Yeah, there’s a lot of guys that were really disappointed in the locker room. It’s obvious why. It’s a big rival, it’s a game that we feel like we’re the better team for major stretches and then we go capitalize and find a way to get the three points. So that part in an emotional way is very hard to swallow.
“But in part of the job of now being a good team and being a good man danger is to try to find ways to now look at things clearly and map out exactly what happened, and despite the result, figure out what we’re doing well and what we’re not doing well.
“On average tonight I thought a lot of guys played really well, we did a lot of things really well. We controlled the game the way we wanted to, but we just weren’t able to capitalize on it.”
The Red Bulls and NYCFC met four times in just over two months, with NYCFC winning two of the three MLS games in addition to this draw and the Red Bulls winning the US Open Cup match they played.
Vieira said of possibly playing the Red Bulls in the playoffs, “We just have to get ourselves in the playoffs and then we’ll see again soon who we’re going to play. But, you know, you don’t want to play against good teams and there’s only good teams in this league. I think when you manage to be in the playoffs, that means you are doing well. And I think when you look at the Red Bulls and you look at the way they played today, it’s a good side. It’s a really strong team. And even if we won the two games in the league didn’t make a difference, and of course they’re taking their chances, us taking our chances.
“But I think it was two good teams in the field, and it was a really good gamble for both, I think. We tried to stop their play and it was a good game of football.”
Marsch said of the teams possibly meeting in the postseason, “Well, I got questioned this week like we’ve played them so many times in the past two months. Whatever, it feels like two weeks. So does it dilute the intensity of the rivalry? I mean, the obvious answer is yes, it does.
“It’s still one that I think both teams take so much pride in. I think it’s developed into one of the best, if not thee best rivalry in the league, right, for many reasons. But, you know you might be right.
“Listen, we’re fully aware that if we get to the playoffs and we see them, that that will be a heavy moment for both teams and one that both teams will be up to and an exciting proposition for both clubs and for the league. So we have some time before and some potential to get to that point, but I think everybody’s aware of it.”