Derby Day is almost upon us as it’s time for another Hudson River clash between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC. This highly anticipated rivalry takes place on Saturday for the last time of the MLS regular season. Here’s what to expect and what to keep in mind for the upcoming match.
Hudson River Rivalry
The rivalry between these two teams has been an intense one ever since NYFC’s inaugural season back in 2015. The Red Bulls hold the advantage with a record of 11-8-3 in total regular season games against New York, including three wins in their five most recent competitions.
The Red Bulls also have just one loss at Yankee Stadium holding a 3-6-1 record in away games against NYFC. The last time these two teams battled was in the round of 32 in this year’s Leagues Cup where the Red Bulls prevailed 1-0 due to a penalty kick courtesy of Omir Fernandez.
Omir Fernandez vs. NYFC
If there’s one player fans should look forward to seeing play, it’s midfielder Omir Fernandez. The Bronx native has shown no love to his opponent when playing NYFC, especially this season. Fernandez has four goals against New York in his career, including two this season.
Fernandez scored both game-winning goals this season against New York and even scored the game-winning goal in the Red Bulls’ last matchup in Yankee Stadium. Growing up a Red Bulls fan makes these matchups all the more special for the 24-year-old and the rivalry that much more intense.
“Personally, I don't like this team [NYFC],” Fernandez said. “I always, you know, have been a Red Bulls fan since I was young. I wanted to play here, and this Derby brings a lot of emotions for me and my family. So, I always go into these games trying to win and always trying to be the player that comes out on top at the end of the game.”
Fernandez will be looking for another win and another goal against a bitter rival.
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that this game is equally as important for both sides. The Red Bulls and NYFC sit at 12th and 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Troy Lesesne spoke on the importance of this game.
“There's still seven matches to play,” Lesesne said. “It's an important match and most importantly, I'd say it's a derby against a team that's in a similar position to us, slightly ahead of us, and we can better our position in the table towards what we have yet to accomplish for the season, and we hope to accomplish in making the playoffs.”
Both teams are two games out of a wild card spot with only seven games left in the season. NYFC has a one-point advantage over the Red Bulls, but RBNY looks to change that.
A win in this Derby could significantly boost the Red Bulls’ confidence going forward. Rivalries always get intense no matter how each team is doing in the season and can be a great morale booster. A win on Saturday would be just what the Red Bulls need.
“There's a lot of teams that are close to that playoff spot, and obviously winning the derby always brings a lot of positive reactions into the locker room,” Fernandez said. “So, winning can definitely be the spark that we need to go into these next games that are coming fast, you know…”
Gameplan For The Win
The Red Bulls are the better team when it comes to conceding goals with 33 compared to NYFC’s 36, but they have struggled to score all season. The Red Bulls have only 24 goals this season, while NYFC have 28. The defense has done its job for the most part this season, but the offense needs to step it up if they want a chance at the playoffs.
“We need goals, we need to win, we need points, and we know that this is a point in the season where it's not ‘okay, let's just move on to the next game,’ every single game is really important, “Fernandez said. “And I think we said it in training this week. We need players that want to take on that responsibility. You know, when you're right where we need goals, we need to win games and you know, we have players that can do those kinds of things. Now, we need to see it out on the field.”
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