(NYCFC midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) and forward David Villa (7) celebrate after defender Anton Tinnerholm (3) scores a goal on LA Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham (1) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
This weekend saw both the Red Bulls and New York City Football Club win their home openers.
The Red Bulls won 4-0 over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena, while NYCFC won 2-1 over the LA Galaxy on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
Red Bulls 4, Portland 0
The Red Bulls won at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night over Portland in what was their first game of the MLS season. Though the MLS started play last weekend, they were essentially given a bye week because of their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League.
This was the Red Bulls’ largest margin of victory ever in a season opener. They also extended its unbeaten streak across all competitions to five matches, dating back to the end of last season. They have outscored their opponents, 10-1 over the last five games.
For the first time in club history, six New York Red Bull Academy products appeared in an MLS match together.
Ben Mines put the Red Bulls on the board in the 18th minute to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead.
At just 17 years, nine months and 26 days old, this was Mines’ first appearance with the Red Bulls and it is his first career MLS goal in his. He is the fifth-youngest player to earn an MLS start in club history, and the third youngest to score, behind Eddie Gaven and Jozy Altidore.
Marsch said of Mines, “You know, I’ve been — we have been very lucky here to inherit so many good players, and players that can fit the way we play the game. You could obviously go down the list of all the different guys, but I remember seeing Ben Mines play in 2016 was the first time that I watched him and I think that he was on the U15 team then. You know, he would play out on the right wing and he was so aggressive and when he got the ball, he was so aggressive to go at guys and make plays, and you know, you could see that he was still trying to figure out the defensive responsibility part but you could see how gifted he was just with the ball on the move.
“And then I think, you know, the academy coaches have done a good job of grooming him to play the way we play, and now when we get him, he’s really ready to transition. And that, you know, I mean, it’s partly because of the academy, it’s partly because of his time in USL last year and obviously integrating him into MLS this year in preseason. If you watched the games down at Arizona when we were in Costa Rica and then when we were back here, he was one of the best players in every one of those games.
“So it was easy addition to put him on the field tonight. It was an easy decision. I knew it — I knew it going into last week that Ben Mines was playing tonight; and, I was pretty confident that he was going to play well.”
The Red Bulls kept that 1-0 lead deep into the second half when they exploded for three goals, starting with a goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 77th minute. BWP came on as a substitute in the 64th minute.
Wright-Phillips, who came on in the 64th minute, continued his goal streak, scoring a goal for the third consecutive time. He has a point in five straight games (4 goals, 1 assist). BWP raised his career MLS regular-season goal total to 87 and 104 across all competitions.
Moments later, Carlos Rivas scored not one but two goals in the final 13 minutes of the match to record his first career MLS brace. He scored in the 80th minute and in the 93rd, a goal that BWP and Connor Lade got assists on.
Red Bulls goalkeeper and captain Luis Robles recorded just one save to tally his third consecutive shutout across all competitions. Robles has allowed just one goal in the last five matches, dating back to last season.
Alejandro Romero Gamarra, known as Kaku, helped Mines get his first career MLS goal with his first career MLS assist.
In just his fourth career MLS match, Vincent Bezecourt rattled off a career-high two assists.
Gamarra, Mines and Kyle Duncan all made their first career MLS appearance and start. Along with his first career start and appearance in MLS, Duncan made his first career professional appearance and start.
The attendance for this one was 18,374, and the Red Bulls are now unbeaten at home in their last nine MLS regular-season matches (5-0-4). In those last nine MLS matches, they have outscored their opponent, 23-6 with five clean sheets.
Marsch moves within one win of 50 career MLS regular-season wins with Red Bulls. Marsch sits at 49-31-23 overall in MLS regular-season matches.
The Red Bulls have a quick turnaround as they host Club Tijuana in the second leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals on Tuesday night at 8 pm at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls won the first leg in Tijuana 2-0 this past Tuesday night.
NYCFC 2, LA Galaxy 1
NYCFC improved to 2-0 on the season with a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium in front of a crowd of 26,221 fans.
NYCFC got on the board in the 22nd minute when new acquisition Anton Tinnerholm scored his first goal with the team.
The play began when David Villa took the ball into the box and fired a shot off an LA defender, which ricocheted to Tinnerholm, who fired one off the crossbar and it bounced straight down to the goal line and in to make it 1-0 NYCFC.
Soon after, Villa was at it again, taking the ball from midfield, then getting it to Ben Sweat, who fired a shot in, and the rebound went to Villa, who buried it to make it 2-0 NYCFC in the 33rd minute.
NYCFC dominated play in the first half, racking up 70.3 percent of possession time, and completing 342 passes to just 140 for LA.
In the second half, Maxi Moralez fired a point-blank shot from the right side in the 53rd minute that went off LA goalie David Bingham’s knee and up off his nose to earn the big save.
Rodney Wallace got a big chance in the 58th minute from the right side as well, but his rocket just missed sneaking in the corner of the left post.
LA got on the board right after that in the 60th minute when Jonathan dos Santos scored coming down the left side on a feed from Emmanuel Boateng that made it 2-1 NYCFC.
Villa tried to respond in the 67th minute on a beautiful give-and-go, and his shot just missed curling inside the right post.
LA defender Ashley Cole took yellow cards in the 76th and 85th minutes to earn an ejection and they played the final eight minutes with 10 men.
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira was asked if NYCFC made it more difficult for themselves during today’s match, “I don’t think we make it more difficult for ourselves. Galaxy played better in some parts of the game and I think when you play against a quality team, you get to a point during the game where you have to suffer, and of course when you concede the goal, it becomes more difficult because of the quality of players that they have on the team. But, I’m really happy, really pleased to win that game because it was against a tough opponent.”