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Red Bulls-NYCFC rivalry continues to evolve ahead of latest clash



Rivalries evolve as the years go on. It’s only natural. Players and coaches change. Trends develop and end. Moments are created and are then upstaged and overshadowed by recency.

The New York Derby is no different. Much has changed in the few short years since the rivalry’s debut and, with both teams appearing set to contend in a big way in 2018, this year’s debut debut has a different feel than in year’s past.

For the first few years of the rivalry, New York was most certainly red. The 7-0 win remains the headliner but, for years, the Red Bulls dominated the New York soccer scene. In 2017 that changed, though, as NYCFC went 2-0-1 to claim the season series throughout their most successful year in the team’s short history.

“It has gotten bigger,” said Bradley Wright-Phillips. “I think the way we started and winning all the time it gave them some fire. Now, they are on top of the league right now. They have had two good seasons in a row and it is going to be tougher for us. Since it first started, it is definitely getting better and evening it out more, it is not one sided any more. It is good to be involved in it.”

“I think the difference is overall as a team we improved,” NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira added. “The first year of course I think they had a few years in front of us, and I think through the years, with the way we rebuilt the team we closed the gap. We have good teams that have allowed us to challenge them.”

Entering Saturday’s clash, NYCFC FC sits atop MLS with 20 points through nine matches. It’s an impressive haul that’s included some impressive wins as NYCFC has showed off depth and a ruthless attack en route to a push to the top of the standings.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile. have bounced back from a Concacaf Champions League setback with some impressive wins of their own. With a pair of games in hand, the Red Bulls sit eight points behind their conference rivals with a team that is relying on a talented young core with success.

While the Red Bulls’ philosophy has stayed largely the same since  Marsch took over, NYCFC has evolved a great deal since Vieira took over. Familiar stars like Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard are gone as NYCFC has rebuilt as a younger, deeper team with players like Jesus Medina, Alexander Ring and Yangel Herrera counted among the team’s core.

“I will not say we surpassed them,” Vieira said, “but we have the team to compete against them because I believe they are part of the favorites of the league because of what they have been achieving the last couple of years. I think the last two years we rebuild the teams to challenge those teams. I don’t say we surpassed them, I just say we have a team to compete against them.”

The Red Bulls have had their changes, though. Vieira pointed to the Red Bulls’ loss of Sacha Kljestan as one that changes the team dynamic, much like Dax McCarty’s departure did the year before.

Still, throughout the rivalry’s history, David Villa and Bradley Wright-Phillips have remained the focal point. Villa recently scored his 400th career goal as he continues to establish himself as one the league’s best ever attackers. Wright-Phillips, meanwhile, also counts himself among the league’s top goalscorers and has proven a particular thorn for NYCFC, having scored 10 goals in as many matches.

“They both rather win than score, there is no doubt,” Jesse Marsch said of the two forwards. “One of the things that makes them special is it is not just the goalscoring; its all the work they do to be real leaders for their team and to set the example. When you have your best player, your top striker, your superstar that is willing to do all the work that is the most humble that is the most committed to the team, my God does it make it easy for the head coach.

“I think the series has been Villa versus Wright-Phillips and, many ways, it will be like that again, but I think it is the job of both teams to put that player in position to succeed as many times as possible and which ever team manages to do that will most likely win.”

Wright-Phillips and Villa won’t be the only players to decide Saturday’s match, just like the game itself won’t be the deciding factor on the 2018 season. There’s a lot at stake, sure, but there’s plenty left to see throughout the season.

That doesn’t soften the anticipation from either side as both clubs look to get an early leg up on their local rival in a clash of the East’s elite.

“They are scoring a lot of goals, it is going to be tough, but so are we,” Red Bulls defender Aaron Long said. “I think it is going to be a clash of two titans, in a way, so we will see who comes out on top.”


  1. oh hell yeah, this derby has been heating up for a long time, and this match is going to be stunning.

  2. pardon me? today is may the 4th, star wars day. may i add this off topic post?

    as follows:

    may the 4th be with you. always.

    george lucas is another one of my presonal heroes in my life. i admire so much what this great man did, and i’m not sure that people realize the great thing that he did (and i’m not sure that i fully realize the greatness of it, either, but i try to understand it better).

    apparently, george lucas was a man who sought truth in politics.

    when i was a kid, i just loved his outer space, wild west-style space shoot ’em ups and the glorious john williams music enveloping it all. gorgeous space adventure.

    but then i became an adult and george made the sequels (meaning, star wars episodes 1, 2 and 3). the prequels are the most precious gem. i think people don’t realize (and do i fully realize?) the greatness of the star wars prequels. in a manner similar to shakespeare teaching 18th century englishmen about the history of europe through elegant, beautiful and passionately gripping drama, george lucas’s prequels teach a new generation of earth residents the concepts of secret societies, corruption, war profiteering, state sponsored terrorism, conspiracy and high treason. all in a digestable, easily followed and understood cartoon (cgi) 30 minute format that anyone can understand.

    in hindsight, of course someone had to shut george lucas up (from “their” point of view). in hindsight, i can’t even believe that so much truth was permitted to air on television for so many years without intervention of the political powers that be on this earth.

    some of the fascinating elements of the prequels include these:

    – the old republic (think 1776 usa or old rome) is noble and has elected leaders who meet and make laws, attempting to be good laws.
    – the jedi (light saber super heros) are the keepers of the peace throughout the galaxy. the government calls upon the jedi to help them in times of need (think: gotham city, batman phone).
    – jedi are the “good guys” and sith are the “bad guys”. jedi use the force for good and sith use the “dark side” of the force to do evil.
    – the jedi are known, but the sith are a secret society consisting of at all times a master and an apprentice. but no one knows who they are.

    do you know the term “dramatic irony”? that’s when the audience knows something that the actors on the stage don’t know. george lucas adds a stunning dramatic irony to the situation, causing all kinds of trouble in the star wars universe. the dramatic irony is that the rightfully elected leader of the republic, chancellor palpetine, and the evil sith lord, lord sidious, ARE THE SAME MAN.

    palpetine/sidous duality:

    so here is perhaps the genious of the prequels, this palpetine/sidious duality.

    – palpetine lives on coruscant and serves as the leader of the galactic senate. he is the lawfully elected leader of the republic.

    – no one knows that palpetine is actually a sith lord! working for evil!

    – in public, palpetine is always looking well, smiling, greeting people happily. everyone likes, trusts and respects palpetine. no one would EVER think he could be a sith lord!

    – after every meeting of the jedi council, they always report to palpetine and tell them what they are doing. so palpetine always knows the exact location of all of the jedi and the republic army forces.

    – secretly, palpetine is plotting to DESTROY THE REPUBLIC. but again no one knows this, not even the good jedi. palpetine assigns his apprentice, count duku to stir up trouble in the galaxy and start a war against the republic (treason). a war that proves to be financially costly to the republic (war profiteering). palpetine always uses his knowledge of the jedi and republic forces to cause them terrible casualties (high treason). the jedi and rebuplic troopers always feel disheartened. they can never understand why the enemy always seems to be just one step ahead of them. planets fall to the enemy side (created by palpetine’s apprentice duku) and the republic loses political credibility. more planets leave the rebulic just because they lost faith that the republic can keep them safe from duku’s manufactured enemy. in the galactic senate, palpatine has positioned his allies there to make laws to further escalate the war (corruption) and weaken the republic (treason). his allies include the banking clan, who don’t care which side wins, they just want to make money from the war (war profiteering). duku also created a group called “death watch” which he sends to terrorize planets who didn’t join his “separatist” side yet (state sponsored terrorism). also, duku (palpatine’s apprentice) also hires bounty hunters to assassinate good senators in the senate who would vote to end the war.

    some of the above is taken from the prequel movies 1-3 and some from the cgi cartoon tv episodes that aired afterwards on cartoon network.

    all in all, totally, as a whole, the star wars prequel world of george lucas actually is our world, if you simply remove the lightsabers and the force and make everyone be normal people. because in our world we have corruption and war profiteering and senate assassination and all of these very same impolite topics presented in the lucas prequel star wars world (which i love!).

    whether you are a star wars fan or not, let us always remember and appreciate the greatness of george lucas and the precious gem of truth that he gave to the world, the star wars prequels.

    may the 4th be with you. always.


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