HARRISON, NJ – For the third time this regular season, New York City FC will have the opportunity to defeat their cross-river rivals, Red Bull New York. Not much has changed for these two teams in the 19 days since they last played, so we’ll keep this brief:
Tale of the Tape
Red Bull New York
The red team finds themselves in fifth place in the east with 38 points. They have at least one game in hand on everyone ahead of them, and a win would see them leap frog both Columbus and Chicago to take third – just five points behind City. Red Bull are 3-2-0 in their last five, but take that with a grain of salt. Their three wins have come against the likes of Minnesota, Montreal (before they were beginning to bounce back), and Orlando (who are in free fall). The two losses? At Portland last week – and at our Boys in Blue on August 6th. While the Red Bull attack is still a potent one (outscoring opponents 12-5 over their last five), they have struggled to beat teams above the line in both conferences.
The absences of Daniel Royer – injured the last time these two teams met – and Aurelien Collin leave City’s nemesis without key pieces in both phases of the game. Royer and Collin join Gideon Baah and Mike Grella – who are both out for the season.
New York City FC
The blue team sits firmly in second place in the East, seven points behind leaders Toronto FC and with a game in hand. NYCFC have won both of their matches since Red Bull last came to town, albeit with a mix-and-match midfield that has been playing musical suspensions. Yangel Herrera is taking his turn being out of the lineup, with a Rodney Wallace poised to take his seat should he be cautioned Friday night. Thankfully City’s midfield has remained healthy throughout this suspension parade. Nobody has joined Ronald Matarrita (foot), Miguel Camargo (hip fracture) and Maxime Chanot (sports hernia) in the trainer’s room.
The Pigeons are 4-1-0 in their last five, with wins against Chicago, Red Bull, LA and New England sandwiching a 4-0 beat-down by Toronto.
Battles to Watch
City Back Four vs. Bradley Wright-Phillips: Once Royer went down last time, BWP had to make his own magic. Defending him would normally be the focus of Frederic Brillant and Alexander Callens, but Wright-Phillips drifted between the lines moreso than we’ve seen before. It will take a complete effort to shut him down.
Alex Ring vs. Sacha Kljestan: With Herrera out, Ring’s sole responsibility should be shutting down service to BWP. The main engine of that service – the heart of the Red Bull attack – is Kljestan. Ring certainly has the legs and the lungs for the job.
Tyler Adams & Felipe vs. Wallace/Villa/Harrison: Herrera’s absence has a profound affect on the physicality of City’s midfield. Mikey Lopez is a physical player, but his lack of size allows only so much punch. The front three will have to remain composed and look to move the ball quickly against the instigating duo.
New York City conclude their season series against Red Bull, Friday night at 7pm on ESPN & ESPN Deportes.
You can listen on WFAN (online) and WBQU (en Español).