Red Bulls-NYCFC renew Hudson River Derby this weekend

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The MLS Game of the Weekend sees the New York Red Bulls host NYCFC in a top-three battle in the Eastern Conference. The red half is in third place after a 1-1 draw at Cincinnati, and after NYCFC won at FC Dallas 1-0 in midweek. This Sunday clash is part of MLS Rivalry Week, and is already the second meeting between the teams. Red Bulls won 3-0 against City in a feisty U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal back in June. The clubs are separated by just two points in the table. First place in the East my or may not be at stake, given that the Philadelphia Union host the New England Revolution Saturday night.

Red Bulls-NYCFC rumble again in the Hudson River Derby

Red Bulls look to beat NYCFC again

Gerhard Struber’s men are rolling at the moment. In third place with 33 points, they’ve won six of their last eight and have gotten contributions from everyone in the team. Lewis Morgan found the scoresheet in Cincy, giving him nine goals this year. After initially struggling at home, they’ve now gone eight games unbeaten at Red Bull Arena. As for the derby, the Red Bulls have not lost the last four occasions, their longest unbeaten stretch since the derby started back in 2015. This 23rd edition is a big one, and a chance for one of the teams to lay a marker down.

Furthermore, the Red Bulls go into this with nearly a full squad. Everyone is seemingly up to full fitness, after Tom Edwards recovered from an ankle problem and Andres Reyes made his season debut. One worry about this team has been the lack of chance creation from open play. The stretch hasn’t been long, but there are signs that a few things have to go right in order for this team to generate offense. The goals have dried up from the striker position, an area that could be a need in the transfer window. Ashley Fletcher has returned to Watford, Tom Barlow is getting minutes but only has two goals, while Patryk Klimala has only four.

Newcomer of the Year contender Luquinhas has been brilliant with 5 goals and two assists, but has been targeted by the opposition. And Struber and the players know it, given the rough fouls the Brazilian has taken recently. Still, his influence in this squad is evident and allows the attack to flow more freely. One thing that has worked in the Red Bulls favor of late is their ability to frustrate their opponents. Luciano Acosta was sent off for a headbutt on Aaron Long last week. While in the last Hudson River Derby, Thiago Andrade was sent off for a similar incident on John Tolkin. The Red Bulls are among the league leaders in fouls committed, so expect a few skirmishes throughout.

NYCFC look to stay ahead atop Eastern Conference

Nick Cushing has finally found winning ways with City. After not winning his first five games in change, NYCFC have won their last two games are second in the East. Valentin Castellanos didn’t feature in the win over FC Dallas, but Heber’s lone goal was enough. Their attacking depth is arguably the best in the league, while also having a league-best nine clean sheets. However, not beating the Red Bulls in their last four must play a psychological factor.

It’s the sort of thing that can drive a team up a wall. But NYCFC can possibly top the East with a win. Maxime Chanot was one of the standout performers in Dallas in the 1-0 win, and earned MLS Team of the Week honors. The goals are flowing as well, City have only been shutout twice since early March, scoring 38 goals which is second most in MLS. The transfer noise surrounding Castellanos has not dismayed him one bit as he is the current Golden Boot leader. Also, the assists have been spread out too, as Maxi Moralez, Santiago Rodríguez and Talles Magno all have six. It’s a lethal attack that can carve up oppositions.

But will NYCFC keep their heads? In league play, City have earned just one red card but are tied for 10th in yellow cards. Referees have taken note of City players surrounding them and giving them their opinions after foul calls. This derby has seen players sent off time and time again, including the game a month ago. It’s what makes this one of the best derbies in all of Major League Soccer. There is plenty incentive for both teams to grab three points, as the race for top seed in the Eastern Conference heats up heading into the All-Star break. Given what we’ve seen from both teams, it should produce fireworks.

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