In their fourth and final match-up of 2017 (including the U.S. Open Cup) before the MLS postseason, the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC have played to their first draw in the young history of the rivalry. The Red Bulls dominated possession throughout the game, and City absorbed that pressure. Against RBNY in 2017, NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira has been content with sitting back and then exploding on the counter attack. It was the same game-plan on Friday night.
A first half bossed by the Red Bulls and characterized by last-ditch defending from NYC ended 0-0. The second half was a collection of “almost” for Jesse Marsch’s side. Felipe hit the crossbar from a spectacular long distance effort in the 47th minute. Seven minutes later, RBNY had a convincing case for a penalty kick after Bradley Wright-Phillips was shoved into the post by RJ Allen while going up to head a cross. It was not called, and immediately after David Villa fed a beautiful ball to Maxi Morales who put NYCFC on top. Finally, Sacha Kljestan was fouled by RJ Allen just inside the box to set up a penalty kick equalizer from Gonzalo Veron in the 70th minute.
New York Derby Ends With First Draw in its History: Three Thoughts
This is how Jesse Marsch positioned his squad for this edition of the NY Derby:
Just a couple of alterations to the lineup for the Red Bulls. Tyler Adams switched from his typical right wing back position to the left side- pushing Kemar Lawrence to inside left center back. Michael Amir Murillo, usually at right center back slotted into Adams old position. Finally, Fidel Escobar started again for RBNY, which seems to answer the question of whether or not he would be a go-to starter.
Passing Not Scoring
By merely looking at the match facts, most would think the Red Bulls won the match in dominating fashion. Only the latter is true.
Over 60 percent possession and 21 total shots compared to NYC’s nine tells the tale of a relatively comfortable evening for RBNY. While they did keep pressure on NYCFC’s defense most of the game, the Pigeons were able to block seven shots and survive.
One of the most successful parts of the Red Bulls’ style is clinical passing. They finished on Friday with an excellent 82 percent passing accuracy on 563 passes. Despite success in multiple offensive categories, RBNY struggled in the finishing department. Both Murillo and Felipe hit the post, and Sean Johnson was forced into a few imperative stops.
The build-up is there for the Red Bulls, but the finishing touch was absent on the night.
MLS has been using Video Assistant Referees for weeks now, yet it seems there are many kinks to be worked out. Aside from the amount of time it takes to review the play there is debate over when it should be used. One of the four reviewable situations for VAR is penalty kicks. Each team had a couple of shouts for penalties with one finally being called on the last, but VAR was not used once.
RBNY fans, as well as ESPN commentators Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman, were sure the shove on BWP in the 54th minute was good enough for a call. Yet, referee Jair Marrufo never even considered a review of the play. VAR could have also been used on possible handballs in the box for both teams.
It is clear that VAR needs work in MLS, but it is only the infancy of this new soccer development. The US should use the German Bundesliga as a model of how to implement VAR. The 2017-18 campaign has just begun in Germany, but their VAR system is consistently fast and accurate. It is a look into what the future could hold in MLS.
Even in one of the lowest scoring games this rivalry has seen, the NY Derby did not disappoint. There was exciting play at both ends, and a joust of opposing tactical mentalities ended in stalemate for the first time. The clubs share the points and hold their positions among the top of the Eastern Conference.
NYCFC are off for an extra week. They are back in action Wednesday, September 6th against Sporting Kansas City.
The Red Bulls hit the pitch again next Saturday, September 2nd at FC Dallas. It will be a big test for the squad in a hostile environment against a top western power. Until then, keep it locked on Last Word on Soccer!