New York City Football Club face Red Bulls this weekend in the first Hudson River Derby of the season.
Nick Cushing’s side travel to Red Bull Arena on Saturday, May 13 in a 7:30pm ET kick-off, seeking a first road win of the campaign.
Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford...
For The City
Derby Day… The first fixture you look for when the schedule is released, the reason friends become enemies, the endless cause of family feuds.
When local rivals lock horns, there is more than three points at stake: those all-important bragging rights.
Taking the 2022 MLS season series, City currently have the upper hand, having defeated Red Bulls both home and away with two superb performances.
The clash at Yankee Stadium sparked an upturn in fortunes for the Boys in Blue to ignite a strong push for the playoffs, providing further evidence (if needed) that form holds no bearing on the result of Derby Day.
With local pride up for grabs, and the chance to delight the ever-dependable NYCFC faithful, the players head into the clash with a new motivation, an added incentive; eager to give an extra 10%, ready to do battle.
Head Coach Cushing will expect no less from his players this weekend to ensure New York remains Blue.
Onwards To NJ
The City Boys cross the Hudson River looking to bounce back from the midweek Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup exit to FC Cincinnati.
NYCFC have only triumphed twice on New Jersey soil in 14 attempts, but did so on our last visit courtesy of a terrific Taty Castellanos strike.
Of the 24 overall encounters, the Boys in Blue have emerged victorious from eight, drawing three, and are unbeaten in league action since October 2021.
Cushing's side face a Red Bulls outfit that has endured a difficult start to the 2023 campaign, currently sitting bottom of the Eastern Conference with a solitary win, and the fewest goals scored, from their 11 games.
However, with a new Head Coach installed in Harrison this week in Troy Lesesne, City will be wary of a potential Red Bulls bounce, with the hosts having triumphed in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, equally eager to kickstart their own campaign.
This our third road game in seven days (and with another trip to Orlando City SC next Wednesday), it’s a crunch period for Cushing and co.
Thankfully, the City Boys don’t have to travel far for this fixture, but the squad has most certainly been stretched over the past few weeks as they've racked up the air miles.
The Head Coach made seven changes for Wednesday's visit to Ohio, handing valuable gametime to those who had not clocked many minutes, and providing some much-needed rest to regular starters, with a pre-planned triple substitution of senior stars introduced on the hour.
Despite the defeat at TQL Stadium, Cushing was pleased with his players' effort in taking their chance to stake a claim for more regular appearances, including this weekend's Derby clash.
"Kevin O'Toole is really pushing," he reflected. "He's played that position as a left-wing back; you can see his technical quality, and his offensive quality. He is somebody that is really pushing to be the number one left-back in the team.
"Tony Alfaro - after not playing for seven months, after having some injury and some physical problems with his Achilles - was really good, excellent in what we asked him to do.
"Andres Jasson has had 30-40 minutes against Toronto, he played 45 [against Charlotte FC], he's now played 60... He's a young player that we're really pushing to be better, but is really driving hard.
"Justin Haak probably could have been on the ball more earlier, but as we really pushed him and put the expectation on him, he was good with the ball... so from that point of rotating, it was positive."
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