HARRISON, N.J. | Patrick Mullins scored his second goal of the season, but Bradley Wright-Phillips’ brace helped propel the New York Red Bulls past visiting New York City FC 2-1 in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,217 on Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena.
Wright-Phillips, who led Major League Soccer with 27 goals in 2014, put the home side up just four minutes in and doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute. Mullins, who scored in New York City FC’s 2-0 victory over New England in the Historic Home Opener on March 15, made it a game in the 76th after slotting home RJ Allen’s pinpoint pass.
New York City FC is now 1-6-3 (6 points), while the Red Bulls improve to 4-1-4 (16 points).
"I continue to see a lot of quality," head coach Jason Kreis said. "I continue to think that we're close. I really do feel like every opponent we've played, we've been very close. We're not quite there yet and I think we need some improvement and some more time together. I continue to believe.
"I came into this season expecting my guys would fight hard all the time and expecting that we would look to improve week over week. Those two things have happened."
Trailing 2-0, second-half substitute Kwadwo Poku received the ball in the middle of the field and slid it outside to Allen, who was making his first-career start a week after signing with the Club and making his debut. The defender slipped the ball from left to right dangerously across the 6-yard box as Mullins, also a second-half substitute, got his foot ahead of a defender’s and put the ball in the back of the net.
Mullins’ first goal for New York City FC came in a similar fashion, sliding into a ball played across the box by captain David Villa against the Revolution.
"We created some opportunities and we've played some good soccer," Mullins said. "What we want is more of our personalities to come out on the field and to make impactful plays at impactful times. ... I'm getting tired of saying we're disappointed with the result, but with that being said, I think there are a lot of things we can look forward to and we need to correct going into the next game."
On Sunday, the Red Bulls started the match more dangerously and their attack paid off less than five minutes in.
Lloyd Sam held up play on the end line and managed to chip the ball into the box while being blanketed by a defender. Wright-Phillips easily one-timed it right the side of his foot into the net for a one-goal advantage in the fourth minute.
"Crushing. It was crushing," Kreis said. "Credit to the Red Bulls; I thought they came out with a tremendous amount of energy and put us under pressure, as we knew they would, but we just had a couple of mental errors there and it's difficult with a team that's dealing with things like we are right now to give away an early goal. It hurts."
New York City FC responded with good pressure resulting in multiple corner kicks, but couldn’t equalize.
The Red Bulls were relegated to 10 men at the 36-minute mark as defender Matt Miazga was shown a second yellow card for his tackle on forward Khiry Shelton.
The score remained 1-0 at the interval.
New York City FC came agonizingly close to tying the score at 1-1 three minutes into the second half. Pablo Alvarez, making his second consecutive start, drove into the box, was tackled and stuck with his run. The ball eventually squirted out to fellow midfielder Ned Grabavoy, whose half-volleyed looping effort went just wide of the far post.
Sam came close to giving the home side a two-goal cushion in the 50th, but his effort was cleared off the line by Allen.
Two minutes later, the Red Bulls scored on a counterattack. Sam drove down the right sideline and sent the ball across the field to Sacha Kljestan who had nothing but green grass in front of him. Kljestan passed the ball across the middle to Wright-Phillips for an easy tap-in and 2-0 lead.
New York City FC goalkeeper Josh Saunders came up big and rejected Wright-Phillips’ try at a hat-trick in the 66th minute, kicking away the forward’s breakaway effort.
New York City FC returns to the field on Friday for a match against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff from Yankee Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT. The game will be broadcast on UDN, 970 AM, and WQBU.
"We'll take the positives from the match and weed out the negatives as we move forward," Allen said. "We're going to continue to stick together. We're going to get through this. We are a good team, everyone in this locker room believes that and we're gonig to turn this around."