On Saturday, second year club New York City FC hosted MLS original New York Red Bulls in a crucial rivalry match. NYCFC fans went into this game optimistic, as the club sat in second place in the eastern conference with 17 points from 12 games. Red Bulls had been much less impressive throughout their first 12 matches. After taking just 3 points from their opening 7 games, they sat in the middle of the table with 13 points.
Nobody could have predicted what would unfold during the 90 minutes played between the two rival clubs on Saturday. The Red Bulls completely dominated the game from start to finish, dealing New York City FC their most embarrassing loss in the club’s short history.
Following this disastrous performance, we are going to take a look at exactly what went wrong for NYCFC by breaking down all 7 of the goals scored by the Red Bulls.
- Dax McCarty, 3 min.: It was a dream start for Red Bulls on Saturday scoring just 3 minutes into the game off of a goal from their captain, Dax McCarty. The goal came off a corner kick, their first corner goal of the season. NYCFC’s set up defensively was pretty straightforward. Brillant, Allen, Mataritta, Hernandez, and Bravo each were designated man markers with Khiry Shelton on the six-yard box and Mikey Lopez watching Felipe at the top of the box. Pirlo and McNamara were covering the short corner. That left David Villa free to not track back and nobody covering either post. Dax started off by attempting to set a screen on Brillant to free up Collin. Fortunately for the Red Bulls, Klejstan service was too long for Collin and McCarty had the presence of mind to quickly adjust his feet and find the ball for almost a free header. Mataritta backed off of McCarty when he saw Dax originally attempt a screen and was too far away by the time the ball reached his beautiful red hair. The shot is most likely cleared off the line if a man were on the front post.
- Bradley Wright-Phillips, 42 min.: This goal all started when Wright-Phillips pressured Brillant in NYCFC’s defensive half and the ball fell to Grella’s feet. Grella was able to carry the ball deep into the left side of NYCFC’s defensive third. RJ Allen initially did well to slow Grella up, but by the time his midfield cover in Bravo tracked back, he decided to drop off for some reason. Bravo then had an unfortunate slip, which allowed Grella to run right at Allen. Grella was able to beat Allen to the end line and get a cross off that was fired directly at the head of Wright-Phillips who did extremely well to redirect the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. Hernandez was late to mark Wright-Phillips and was unable to bump him because Brillant never looked over his shoulder to find a mark in the box. Terrible defending all around from the right side of NYCFC’s defense.
- Bradley Wright-Phillips, 45 min.: After some set piece defending and a couple of poorly cleared crosses, Grella picked up the ball in the left side of the box with his back to goal. He was able to turn and cross the ball in with Hernandez defending him and Bravo providing cover. Wright-Phillips picked up a position just in between Allen and Lopez so that he could find a little space without being closely marked. Collin and Brillant battled for Grella’s initial cross, which was sent straight back into the air. The ball came down to Wright-Phillips who bicycle kick finished the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal with Allen on his back at this point. This defensive breakdown came from not successfully clearing the ball on three separate occasions and Allen not marking Wright-Phillips until it was too late. A great goal but still could have been avoided.
- Dax McCarty, 51 min.: NYCFC’s defensive corner set up was identical to their set up on Dax’s goal in the first half. Very easy goal to break down. No screen from Dax this time as Red Bulls had a runner at the front post, back post, and middle of the goal. Dax was the middle of the goal runner, gave a slight push on Mataritta to free up some space and beat him to the ball heading it down into the bottom right corner. Mataritta mainly at fault again but Vieira clearly needs to reconsider his club’s defensive corner strategy.
- Alex Muyl, 56 min.: A sloppy build up out of the back that was capped off by a terrible back pass from RJ Allen gave Wright-Phillips the ball running straight at NYCFC’s goal. He was able to cut the ball back on Brillant and lay the ball off to Muyl who finished the chance for his first ever MLS goal. Klejstan and Sam were also there to receive they lay off just in case Muyl wasn’t. Nothing really to breakdown as it all came from a terrible build up.
- Gonzalo Veron, 83 min.: The 6th goal from the Red Bulls came off a free kick deep in the left side of NYCFC’s defensive third. Their defensive set up was similar to how they defended their corners. Five players man marked in the box, two men were in the wall, Lampard watched the cutback ball to the top of the box, and for some reason they had Lopez basically standing right in front of Saunders inside of the six facing the ball. The idea of a hole player is very understandable to clear out the ball being played in on the ground but from this position it was a complete waste of a man. It would have been impossible with the wall to play the ball in on the ground in the six. Hernandez was tasked with marking Veron. Felipe simply sent the ball to the back post and Hernandez was lost in the crowd of players crashing the goal. Simple headed finish.
- Gideon Baah, 89 min.: A third goal off of a corner and this was the worst of all. Veron was able to set up at the corner of the six without anyone marking him. How is that even possible? Felipe simply served the ball in right at Veron who attempted to flick it on but missed. The ball trickled into the six on the bounce to find Baah who had gotten in behind Brillant. He initially mishit the ball but was able to follow it up for a tap in. A man on the near post would have had an easy clearance. This entire time Mikey Lopez was standing inside of the six-yard box giving cover for absolutely nothing. He should have had the responsibility of standing in front of Veron so that the exact cross Felipe played was not possible.
Apologies to New York City FC fans as that was probably very difficult to take in. It was a match that will go down in the history of the young rivalry. Red Bulls fans will be talking about it for years to come while NYCFC fans will do everything they can to erase the touchdown from their memories. These two clubs will meet again two more times this season. Fans of both clubs will be anxious, NYCFC seek revenge while Red Bulls will look for continued dominance.