The latest installment in the Hudson River Derby series is almost here.
Here’s Mark Booth with the Major Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Welcome to New York!
For Domenec Torrent, this will be the first taste of a Hudson River Derby – a special day for soccer fans in the city, but this isn’t his first high stakes local rivalry match.
As Pep Guardiola’s assistant, Torrent has been part of tens of El Classico games between Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, FC Bayern vs. Borussia Dortmund matches in Germany, as well as the Manchester derby in England.
As a result, Dome will know the right emotional tone to strike at training in the days leading up to the game, balancing his messaging to rile up and motivate his players, as well as keeping them calm and focused on the matter in hand.
Torrent has only been in the city for a matter of weeks but he’s already grasped how important this match is to our supporters and will know that nothing less than three points will satisfy the home crowd come Sunday evening.
Let’s get this out of the way nice and early, there hasn’t been anything to savor in this matchup in the two meetings so far in 2018.
Two emphatic wins for the Red Bulls in New Jersey in MLS and in the Open Cup have been grueling occasions for the City faithful but we have the perfect opportunity to answer critics and give fans something to shout about in these still-early stages of our rivalry game.
We might be coming into this one on the back of a tough defeat at Chicago but don't forget that we haven’t tasted defeat in successive Regular Season matches since near the start of 2016 and we’ve defeated Red Bulls in our last two Bronx bouts.
Let's turn Yankee Stadium Blue. Let's sing our hearts out for the boys. Let's Believe.
Beat the Press
Key to Red Bulls’ success in this match, not just in 2018, but in previous engagements, has been the high press which Sunday's visitors have down to a fine art, aggressively seeking to win back possession in advanced areas.
This obviously reduces the distance to goal and has been the route to early goals in the two 2018 matches, giving NYCFC mountains to climb which have proved unassailable.
In the match at Red Bull Arena in 2017 and in the 3-2 at Yankee Stadium later in the year, City played longer than they normally would at times, mixing pass selections from the usual build-up from the back, to longer diagonals, over the top of the energetic Red Bulls’ press.
Torrent has watched Red Bulls’ recent games and has hinted he will adapt NYC’s gameplan for this one, presumably with some variation on these tactics in mind, meaning we should be set up for a fascinating cerebral battle between the two men in the tactical areas.
If there’s one source of comfort for our more nervous fams making the journey to Yankee Stadium this weekend, it should be the fact that we possess the league’s best home record in 2018.
To date, we’re unbeaten in the Bronx this year, with seven wins and one draw from our eight encounters since March.
In total, we’re undefeated in our last ten MLS home matches (7W 3D), scoring multiple goals in eight of the 10 games… one more and we equal our club record for longest home unbeaten streak.
This weekend could be p good.
David Villa is rated as “questionable” on the NYCFC Injury Report, meaning he has a chance of returning from the injury he sustained in the win over Toronto.
Our talisman scored a hat-trick in this match back in 2017 and is just as important to this team as he’s ever been, for so many reasons.
However, in Jo Inge Berget (4), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (8) and Maxi Moralez (6), it looks as though we do have players to score goals when El Guaje is not available.
Berget has been in especially good form in recent weeks, scoring his first road goal last time out to add to the brace he scored vs. Toronto the week before.
In 2015, NYCFC averaged 1.3 goals per 90’ when Villa wasn’t on the pitch but now it’s 1.9 goals per 90’, showing just how much our goalscoring potential has improved across the field in that timespan.