New York City FC heads east of the Hudson River to take on the Red Bulls in the first rivalry matchup in Season Five.
As the team looks to return to their winning ways, and continue their climb up the table, the return of key players like Héber, Alex Callens, and Sean Johnson could be the answer.
City has been without key starters in the past few matches due to injuries and international call ups. Now that the international break has come to a close, starting goalkeeper, Johnson returns to his team after a long four weeks.
Johnson reported to the US Men’s National team for the Concacaf Gold Cup in June, making one appearance in their Starting XI. The US side made their bid for the Gold Cup trophy by making it to the final, unfortunately falling to Mexico in a hard-fought battle.
The 'keeper returned to the Big Apple after placing second in the tournament, bringing his experience back to NYCFC, who welcomed him with open arms.
“The time with the national team was great. Obviously would have loved to end by winning the Gold Cup, but I thought the month overall was positive. The group was great, everybody fought until the end and it was a good experience. I was happy to contribute,” Johnson told reporters.
“I’m excited to come back and join the guys again, battle again, and continue to climb.”
Although Johnson is happy to be back to his rightful spot in net, he’s proud of his team and his backup, Brad Stuver, for stepping up when it was needed the most.
“I think everybody stepped up to the plate and have done their part to make sure we kept climbing the table. I think that’s all you can ask,” Johnson said.
“Obviously, coming off of a great month. I feel good, the group is great."
Johnson’s arrival comes just in time for the Hudson River Derby, a turf war the Boys in Blue look forward every season.
“I think I expect a hard-fought match against the Red Bulls, it’s always a little bit of a different feeling compared to other league games - especially now being at their place. I think it will be a good test for us but we’re in a good moment now,” the keeper said.
It may be tough traveling to New Jersey, into rival territory, but New Yorkers never turn their backs on a challenge.
In Johnson’s words: “The keys to getting a good result at the Red Bulls, well first and foremost obviously is fighting every moment for each other. I think just having each other's backs at every point in the game. Keeping them off the scoresheet and scoring goals obviously is the name of the game, but all the little things matter.
“I think this is a group that has been very much together over the past month or two months of the season. We were on a really good stretch there where we didn’t lose any games so I think that’s the mentality you have to have, especially going into a tough atmosphere like Red Bull.
“I think for us right now, we’ve been in a good way we have to go in and pose ourselves at their place.
“Now we have an important part of the season to press on. It’s good to be back, and obviously coming back for a big game and the derby.”
Don’t miss a chance to cheer on your Boys in Blue as they take on the Hudson River Derby tune in to FS1, and let’s get it #ForTheCity!