It was an afternoon to remember for all in blue at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
Here’s what we learned from New York City FC’s 2-0 win over Red Bulls…
Rolling Sleeves Up
There are still two more Hudson River Derby days to come in 2017, so we’ll not get too carried away, but this an historic day for NYCFC who won at Red Bull Arena for the first time ever.
Patrick Vieira spoke in the buildup to the game on his desire to start turning around a poor record against our New Jersey rivals and called for his team to roll their sleeves up and win the physical battle, first and foremost.
He could've asked for more out on a field where Yangel Herrera, Alex Ring and Tommy McNamara were flying into challenges and winning the second balls, David Villa, Jack Harrison and Rodney Wallace were pressing from the front and pushing Red Bulls back, and the whole defensive line both repelled anything Red Bulls could throw at them, and launched attacks of their own.
It was a day when every single man in blue could walk off the field at the end of the 90’ with their heads held high.
To win on the road in your neighbors’ back yard for the first time would have been special however it came to be but, to do so in such emphatic style, thanks to a committed, clever and dominant performance makes it even more so.
Once Jack Harrison put the boys in blue one up in the 33rd minute of this first MLS Hudson River Derby of the season, it never looked like NYCFC were going to let it slip for a second.
More chances came and Red Bulls were indebted to Luis Robles for keeping them in the game until Ben Sweat sunk that dagger in with his header on 66’.
Sean Johnson hardly had a save to make in the remaining 25 minutes as Vieira’s men closed out the game with real authority.
Derby Day? No Sweat
What a time to score your first MLS goal and what a pickup Ben Sweat is proving to be.
The Floridian defender joined after a successful trial in the offseason and he’s turning out to be a very savvy piece of business already, just a few months into his contract.
Stepping in for the injured Ronald Matarrita earlier in the season, Ben impressed with his athleticism, defensive solidity and the timing of his runs into enemy territory, meaning it was no surprise to see him keep his place for this derby despite the Costa Rican’s return.
To say he repaid his manager’s faith would be an understatement as he turned in a great performance on both sides of the ball, assisting the first goal for Jack Harrison before scoring the game-clincher on 66’.
In our Major Keys feature posted on NYCFC.com before the game, we posited whether Herrera would make the difference to an NYCFC side who only narrowly lost to Red Bulls in the Open Cup.
The Venezuelan certainly answered that question, making a huge impact in this game, especially in the first half when he and Ring were irrepressible in recovering the ball for their team and making smart choices on the ball.
It should not go unnoted too that both midfielders are still new to the league and will only get better… an exciting thought!
That’s three wins in a row now for NYCFC as Vieira’s men really take a stranglehold on a place in the top three in the Eastern Conference.
While it’s still massively early days to talk about playoffs, NYCFC look to have shaken off that rocky patch on the road in May and are looking up the table rather than down.
Minnesota are up next on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium and we’ll be needing your support in the Bronx, so make sure you get your tickets below to see if we can make it four on the bounce...