Major Keys Red Bulls

Major Keys: #NYisBlue & Herrera Returns

The eighth MLS Hudson River Derby is so close you can almost taste it…

New York City FC hosts Red Bulls on Sunday evening for a game which has more than just local pride on the line.

Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with the Major Keys to the Match…

Bouncing Back

As covered extensively in our Five Things We Learned feature in the aftermath, the 4-0 scoreline in our defeat to Toronto was perhaps just a little misleading on the balance of play.

While there was little question that the Eastern Conference leaders deserved their victory, the game was a lot closer than the four-goal margin suggests – however, Patrick Vieira will have already moved to turn the page on that disappointing afternoon at BMO Field.

Entering into August when the MLS Playoff race really heats up, the Frenchman knows that NYCFC are well-positioned for the post-season and will be aiming to start building momentum for the fall run-in.

This derby offers the perfect chance to dust off the frustration endured in Canada and to signal the team’s intent for the months ahead in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd which will be behind the Boys in Blue from the first whistle.

READ: A-Z of the Hudson River Derby

Turning Tide?

Following a miserable run through the first four Hudson River Derby games, there is a sense that NYCFC are flipping the script on their cross-river rivals of late.

Getting off the mark and breaking the streak with the 2-0 victory in July 2016, Vieira’s men made a signal of intent which they followed up on in June 2017 with a first-ever win at Red Bull Arena.

That means we’ve now won two of our last three games against the Red Bulls in MLS – an encouraging bite into the early advantage Jesse Marsch’s men have enjoyed in this rivalry.

The Returned

As ever, we’ll wait for Friday’s Injury Report to find out who Vieira has to operate with on Sunday but one man who will definitely be back in contention to play is Yangel Herrera.

The Venezuelan has served his one-match suspension incurred for two bookable offenses against Chicago and will bolster midfield options for the home team.

Man of the Match against Red Bulls in June, Herrera has seemingly grown in influence with every outing in sky blue and the stats certainly seem to back up this assertion.

NYCFC’s win percentage with Yangel in the starting XI stands at a staggering 75% (6-1-1) - a figure which drops to 35.7% when he doesn’t (5-6-3).

That means NYC earns an average of 2.4 points per game with the 19-year old on the field from the start and just 1.3 without.

While you can only read so much into these kind of numbers and our hopes of success never rest on one players’ shoulders, Herrera is definitely becoming an important member of this NYCFC side.

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About the Hudson River Derby?

In-Form Red Bulls

NYCFC swept Red Bulls aside in Harrison in June with an authoritative show of strength, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Jack Harrison and Ben Sweat.

Dominating every area of the field, as well as every statistical metric, it was a quality performance which will live long in the memory but it might be a closer game this time around if Red Bulls’ recent form is anything to go by.

Marsch’s men are one of the Eastern Conference’s most in-form sides at present, winning their last four games in emphatic style.

They beat Montreal 4-0 last time out, following up on 3-0 and 5-1 wins against Minnesota and San Jose respectively, so they are certainly not to be taken lightly.

#NYisBLUE

We’re counting on you to create a sea of blue in the bleachers and in the stands at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

With Red Bulls able to leapfrog us with a victory in the Bronx, we want you to help us to prevent that from happening with your loud and loyal support, so make sure you click that link below to get your tickets!

You can also show your support in the days leading to the game by using the #NYisBLUE hashtag on social media and by plotting yourself on our interactive “Paint the City Blue” map here.

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