New York City FC is back on the road as they head to New Jersey to take on the Red Bulls in the first leg of the Hudson River Derby.
Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Strength in Numbers
City has been without key starters in the past few games due to injury and international call ups. Luckily, the players are trickling back to Dome Torrent’s roster.
Sean Johnson and Alex Callens returned to the Big Apple after competing for their respective national teams in international tournaments. Now that they are back, they will be available for selection in the Derby.
As far as injuries are concerned, Héber, who had been out with a hamstring injury, made his return to the XI in the U.S. Open Cup match against Orlando City SC. He has yet to make his comeback in regular-season games.
Along with Héber, Tony Rocha is back to full physicality and could make his return to the midfield on Sunday.
They will all make their return to Dome Torrent’s roster for selection in the regular season matchup against our rivals, the Red Bulls.
Hudson River Derby
The Hudson River Derby has been a well-known rivalry throughout NYCFC’s short five seasons.
Like Johnson told reporters, “I think I expect a hard-fought match against the Red Bulls, it’s always a little bit of a different feeling compared to other league games - especially now being at their place.”
Although the first matchup of the season is on their home turf, the Road Blues have done well this season with only one loss on the road.
As they travel to New Jersey, they’ll be on their A-game trying to bring home another three points.
Although NYCFC has only tasted defeat twice in their MLS Season 5, they’ll look to make their come back in the Derby.
With the return of key players, bring back depth to the roster, the team will be in near full form.
Sean Johnson’s return in net brings strength back to City. Although Brad Stuver held down the fort in the big man’s absence, the ‘keeper has come up big for his team when they’ve needed him and he is itching to put on his gloves and take the field with the Boys in Blue once again.
Another key return is Alex Callens, whose absence caused a shift in Torrent’s formation. Callens' return will bring that Iron Man power to the defensive line.
Héber took the pitch with his squad on Wednesday, for the Open Cup, but his presence on the field automatically adds to the team’s confidence. The striker’s arrival spurred NYCFC back to their winning ways, and he will look to once again get his team back on top.
As the Boys in Blue look to bounce back in the Derby, they’ll be eager to bring home the win and continue their ascent up the table.
Climbing the Table
At this point in the young season, many people have said it before, but the East is still up for grabs.
NYCFC currently sits in 5th place on the Table for the Eastern Conference, one spot above the Red Bulls. Like the Hudson River, only one point separates the two teams.
Meanwhile, Montreal Impact and Atlanta United are above City, with yet again one point between them.
A win on Sunday could put the Boys in Blue in second place, tied with D.C. United in points and wins, but with the goal differential being the tie-breaker NYCFC would win out.
As City hits the road to head to New Jersey, they will need the 12th man to show up and show out, as they’ve done time and time again.
If you can’t make the commute, tune in to FS1 or head to Katch Astoria and cheer on New York City’s Football Club on Sunday.
Let’s go, you Boys in Blue #ForTheCity!