New York City FC are preparing for the first Hudson River Derby of the season against Red Bulls.

Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…

Set The Tone

“We’re going in to win both games.”

Keaton Parks delivered an emphatic message when discussing a derby double-header, and that speaks to a much wider point about playing rivalry games. While it’s often said the form book is dispensed in this scenario, momentum can play a vital role.

Individual battles take center stage, and that can put greater emphasis on winning your first tackle, connecting your first pass. It’s about establishing a platform to build on. Exerting control can be vital on a day when pressure is ramped up.

Derby games also entertain with their ability to change quickly and without warning, but if you speak to most head coaches, they will tell you that this type of meeting is often won by the team that handles the occasion and grabs control of proceedings.

Going into the game with a proactive, rather than reactive, mindset will be important for NYCFC, and hearing someone like Parks have the confidence to say this publicly is a great first step in achieving two wins and six points.

Make Them Chase

One of the central principles of Red Bull’s philosophy is pressing.

That preference is shared by their coach Gerhard Struber, and will likely see our opponents take an aggressive approach without the ball. The benefits of such a strategy are well-known, with turnovers high up the field often creating high-quality chances.

The weakness of this approach comes when a team is able to play through the press. NYCFC teams have long been focused on dominating possession as a means to control a game and create chances.

While playing through a press is not always a simple task, if Ronny Deila and his team can get it right they should be able to cause Struber’s side considerable problems on a defensive end.

Another One

On Saturday NYCFC ended their bad run of form on the road by beating FC Cincinnati 2-1.

They’re back at it again on Wednesday with a chance to further improve their standing away from Yankee Stadium, and to do so at Red Bull Arena would be extra sweet. NYCFC’s last derby win at RBA came in 2017, thanks to goals from Jack Harrison and Ben Sweat, and what better time to add another success in the Red Bull’s backyard than on Wednesday night.

It won’t be easy, but if the Boys in Blue can show up, it will be the perfect precursor to Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium.