NEW YORK CITY, NY – In a wild night in the Bronx, New York City FC found themselves once again triumphant over their cross-river rivals. In a gutsy, come-from-behind win, the home crowd got to witness club history.
The first 45′ were well contest by both teams with not a lot happening early on. Red Bulls were trying to impose their will up the wings, just as Jesse Marsch said has been the key to his club’s recent success. In somewhat of a change from their usual gameplan, Sean Johnson was launching balls over the top, deep into Red Bull territory for the likes of David Villa, Jon Lewis and Jack Harrison to try to catch up to.
City caught an unfortunate break when Red Bull breakout Daniel Royer was removed from the game after suffering what looked like a potentially season-ending knee injury. City could not take advantage of the short-lived extra man, however, as Royer was quickly replaced by Alex Muyl.
After getting some good chances on fast breaks, the game looked to be settling in for a long night. Out of nowhere, a poor pass from Damien Perrinelle ricocheted powerfully off the chest of a stationary Alex Ring. The ball fell to the feet of Villa, who had Luis Robles one-on-one.
Needless to say, el Guaje put it away – Villa’s 15th goal of the year – and the home side went up 1-0.
The game returned to its ping-pong back-and-forth, with NYCFC getting the lion’s share of the chances. Villa and Maxi Moralez seemed to have trouble staying onside. Then, after a poor clearance from Ring, Bradley Wright-Phillips got his best opportunity of the match and didn’t let it get away from him. Sliding to the top of the box, BWP dribbled to the outside of Ethan White who had his foot raised just a little too high. The ball crept underneath and below a diving Johnson to even the score at 1-1.
The Red Bulls came out of the half pressing hard, seemingly with renewed vigor and purpose. In the 64th minute, Alex Callens did well to defend an attack up the near side but didn’t clear the ball completely. Sacha Kljestan gathered the loose ball and fed it to Tyler Adams in the corner. Callens went for a second sliding tackle, but Adams leapt over him and drove the ball through the box, past Frederic Brillant and right to Wright-Phillips who put it away for the Red Bulls’ second of the night.
A familiar creeping feeling fell over the stadium after the go-ahead goal, but there was still plenty of time left. In the 72′ minute, David Villa would take over the match.
Villa made a carbon-copy of his solo run against Minnesota. He evaded four Red Bulls on his way to netting the equalizer for NYCFC, slipping between markers and firing past Robles – who actually got a hand on it – from the top of the area.
Three minutes later, el Guaje would put the match away for good.
On a long ball from Sean Johnson, Ugo Okoli – subbed on for White – won the header and seamlessly fed the ball to Villa. Villa tried to get on the end of Okoli’s pass in the box, only to be kicked in the head by Sal Zizzo and awarded a penalty.
For the first time in his NYCFC career, David Villa scored his hat-trick goal on the ensuing penalty kick.