HARRISON, NJ – A different kind of history was made in Harrison Friday night. For the first time ever, New York City FC and Red Bull New York played to a draw.
The 1-1 scoreline for this one doesn’t do the game justice. Red Bull came out of the gate pressing hard, as always. City was having an incredibly difficult time keeping up, and it seemed very much like they were paying a man down through the first 25 or so minutes. Coach Patrick Vieira seemed to be (uncharacteristically) okay conceding possession, hoping to steal a goal on the counter.
Easier said than done. While the Pigeons had their opportunities, the midfield was having extraordinary difficulty stringing together more than one or two passes. To make matters worse – in a game in which the City defense was essentially weathering the storm – Ethan White went down in the 30th minute, to be replaced by RJ Allen.
While capable, Allen brings a different type of game than White. Where White relies on positioning and vision to make defensive plays, Allen basically pounds his mark into submission. His aggressive style of play pays dividends, but it also opens NYCFC up to some unfavorable consequences. In the first half he narrowly escaped giving up a penalty while defending Bradley Wright-Phillips. Streaking through the air, Allen made a play to knock BWP off his lane and no effort on the ball.
For the first half, all was well. The match looked scary from the blue side – they were out-shot 8-2 – but the defense managed to spoil most of the Red Bull attack. The worst thing to come out of the first half was a yellow card to Rodney Wallace which – as we mentioned in our pre-match post – gives him Yangel Herrera‘s seat in musical suspensions.
Vieira acknowledged at the half that his club was having difficulty keeping up with Jesse Marsch‘s relentless press. The break did City some favors, however, and they looked much more organized and confident as the second half began.
A breakthrough came in the 56th minute. A long ball from Mikey Lopez found Jack Harrison running up the far side. Harrison tapped to Allen, who ran it as close as he could before dumping it to David Villa. Villa flicked the ball on to Maxi Moralez, who got around his marker and slid the ball just under a diving Luis Robles to open the scoring.
Fourteen minutes later, Allen’s aggressive play would come back to haunt him. On an attack, Sacha Kljestan managed to get himself into the box. His look wasn’t the cleanest, but he was in a dangerous position when Allen came crashing in, knocking Kljestan to the ground and drawing the penalty.
Gonzalo Veron would go right down Broadway to tie the game.
In a derby match that saw two Red Bull shots rattle the bar, RJ Allen get away with a no-call on a clear penalty, and a starting defender sidelined by injury – NYCFC is lucky to have come away from this match with anything. They finish the regular season undefeated in the 2017 Hudson River Derby – with the only other possible meeting in the playoffs.
This match didn’t have the feel of “draw that felt like a loss” in that the intensity shown by both clubs was inevitably going to lead to a goal. Going into a tough match against Sporting Kansas City, NYCFC will be without multiple starters, and getting a point from this match will go a long way to cementing their position in the standings. Beating a club a third time is one of the hardest things to do, and the Boys in Blue will be happy – if not slightly disappointed – taking points away.