Red Bulls Goal/s: Klijestan 25mins & 43mins
NYCFC’s preseason rumble with the Red Bulls in the desert ended in a 2-0 defeat but there were plenty of positives for Head Coach Patrick Vieira to take away.
In our second proper encounter of 2017, it was a young NYCFC XI featuring a number of trialists facing off against a first choice Red Bulls XI taking part in their final game before the CONCACAF Champions League clash with Vancouver.
Despite the vast gulf in experience between the two sides, it was NYCFC who started the game brightest, creating a couple of half chances to score in the opening 15 minutes.
Kwame Awuah saw his fizzing drive deflected wide of the target with nine minutes on the clock before Ugo Okoli drew a solid save from Luis Robles from a curling free-kick from 25 yards.
Our New Jersey rivals did start to knit together some intricate moves after sustaining this early pressure and they grabbed the lead on 25 minutes when Sacha Kljestan finished off a sweeping counter from a Gonzalo Veron assist with a sidefoot finish.
Vieira’s men spurned a glorious chance to level seven minutes before the interval when Khiry Shelton was felled in the box but Robles won the psychological battle with Okoli, not falling for the stuttering run-up and making the save from the penalty.
Five minutes later, on the stroke of half-time, Red Bulls were 2-0 up thanks to their captain’s second goal.
Undeterred, this young NYCFC outfit continued to give a good account of themselves after the interval, both bolting the door at the back and creating a few openings of their own – the best one of which fell for Stertzer from an Okoli knockdown but Robles closed him down before he could shoot.
All in all, it was a good workout for the team with three games of preseason remaining before the big kick-off in Orlando.
An equalizer wouldn’t have flattered NYCFC when Okoli had the opportunity to level from the penalty spot but the goalkeeper guessed right to make the save and, only a few minutes later, Klijestan doubled the Red Bulls advantage with a smart strike from the top of the box.
It was a cruel moment for Ugo and his teammates.
How They Lined Up
Starting XI: Johansen, Gomez, White, Sweat, Allen (C), Wingate, Awuah, Stertzer, Shelton, Brown, Okoli
With four games coming up in the space of two weeks, Vieira named an experimental XI for NYCFC’s first Desert Diamond Cup clash against Red Bulls, with SuperDraft picks Chris Wingate, Jalen Brown and Kwame Awuah handed starts.
Elsewhere, Ugo Okoli led the line with Brown and Khiry Shelton on either side, while Ben Sweat partnered Ethan White at the back between full-backs Shannon Gomez and first half skipper, RJ Allen.
Allen handed on the armband to Ronald Matarrita at the interval and Andre Rawls came on for Eirik Johansen midway through the second period as Vieira looked to give minutes to his whole squad.
Jack Harrison and James Sands were also introduced from the bench with 20 minutes to go and both caught the eye with hugely eye-catching performances.
Man of the Match
The trialist showed his quality with two goals in two games before this derby match and he certainly demonstrated it again in this encounter, making some lovely touches in the no.10 position, knitting plays together and bringing his teammates into the game.
He certainly did his hopes of earning a deal with the club no harm in his third promising outing.
NYCFC have two days now before their next Desert Diamond Cup assignment against Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at 8pm ET.