New York City FC (1-5-3; 6 points) travels across the Hudson River and into New Jersey for their first-ever match against the neighboring New York Red Bulls (3-1-4; 13 points) on Sunday evening.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The match will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 1 and can be heard on WFAN and WADO 1280 AM. The game will also be streamed on Fox Sports Go.
New York City FC enters the match on the heels of a 3-1 home defeat to the Seattle Sounders on May 3, while the Red Bulls are coming off their first loss of the season – a 2-1 decision at New England on May 2. New York City FC aren’t putting much stock into their record, though, having continued to improve on the field on a weekly basis.
Head coach Jason Kreis said the team is confident and positive heading into Sunday night’s match.
“Speaking with a lot of the guys, they’re confident with what they’re doing and the direction they’re headed in, as am I,” Kreis said. “We’ve said all along this is a process and it’s going to take some time. It’s probably taken a little longer than I expected, but it doesn’t change the feelings all of us had coming into this knowing it wouldn’t be a perfect situation right out of the gate.”
Hernandez echoed his coach’s sentiments on the embryonic season.
“I think it all boils down to the work day in and day out, trusting in what we’re trying to build here and trusting the vision we have for this club,” he said. “All of the guys are great character guys and believe in what we’re doing and things are going to start going our way if we continue to do so.”
The Red Bulls, currently third in the Eastern Conference, are headlined by midfielders Felipe Martins and Sacha Kljestan and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam lead the team with three goals apiece, while Kljestan and Mike Grella have two each.
Hernandez is very familiar with the Red Bulls’ potent attack, which ranks third in the MLS with 12 goals, and the New York City FC defender has a history with Kljestan. The duo played together at Seton Hall University from 2003-04.
“I’ve gotten the chance to line up against that team a lot in my career,” said Hernandez, who was drafted by the organization then known as the MetroStars in 2005. “Wright-Phillips had a tremendous year last year (tied MLS season-single record with 27 goals) and he’ll be one to watch, not just as a back four, but the team as a whole defending as a unit. Sacha is someone I know really well from my college days and professional days.
“They have an eye for goals and they’re pretty dynamic so it’s going to be on us to be connected and play with a sense of urgency and attention for 90 minutes.”
Hernandez isn’t the only New York City FC player or coach who can relate to struggles on the field. Kreis, who was the league’s first 100-goal scorer, said he can think of goal-scoring droughts and even tough times on the sideline after he traded in his uniform for a suit as a head coach.
“I can draw off of personal experiences and tell you that there’s only one way to get out of these situations and that’s to continue to work,” Kreis said. “Literally, you have a choice every single day about what you’re going to do. When you get out of bed in the morning you can choose to stay in bed and pack it all in and quit or you can choose to get up and fight.
“We’re going to continue to choose to get up and fight.”