Despite taking an early lead from a 10th minute Alex Muyl goal, the New York Red Bulls were defeated Saturday night 2-1 in the Hudson River Derby.
Maxi Morález and Héber combined to give NYCFC the victory and put them one point behind Eastern Conference leaders, Atlanta United and the Philadelphia Union.
The Derby certainly lived up to the billing. A rough and violent affair in the Bronx, the match saw six combined yellow cards, numerous free kicks and verbal cautions from the referee, and a red card shown to Rónald Matarrita in the game’s final minutes for a Zidane-like headbutt to the chest of Red Bulls’ Michael Murillo.
Alex Muyl struck the first blow of the game in the 10’ after the Red Bulls controlled nearly all the possession up to that point. Combining with Kaku for a textbook give-and-go, Muyl hit a left footed laser to find the top left corner of the net and give NYRB the early lead.
After going down early, NYCFC nearly dominated the next hour of play. The Red Bulls struggled to maintain a rhythm and NYCFC took advantage. Several goal attempts from the blues hit the woodwork, including a lightning bolt from Héber and a header from Valentin Castellanos off a corner.
Maxi Morález’s penalty kick just before halftime felt like a just reward for their numerous close attempts. Matarrita flicked a perfect ball past a porous Red Bulls defense to find Morález. Murillo was always a step behind and shoved the Argentine inside the box.
The penalty kick was a successful one and the game was level going into the second half.
Héber avenged his first half misses by burying a back-heel in the 53’. Anton Tinnerholm took advantage of a sleeping Red Bulls back four and found Héber with a low cross right in front of goal. The goal gave NYCFC the lead and was his 13th of the season.
One of the few positives for the New York Red Bulls was the debut of Josh Sims. Acquired from a loan deal with Premier League club, Southampton, the Englishman came on for Muyl in the 65’ and his impact was felt immediately. He almost netted his first assist after his pass to Daniel Royer and the subsequent shot was saved by NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
The equalizing goal never came for the reds and they head back to New Jersey six points behind the team they just faced. The upcoming match next Saturday against Colorado remain pivotal for a win. After that, they will be on the west coast for back-to-back matches with Seattle and Portland. Next up for the blues, NYCFC will head to Canada to face the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night.
By Nick Sbordone