Red Bulls

MLS PREVIEW: New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC

The Hudson River derby this year between the New York Red Bulls and New York City Football Club (NYCFC) will take place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York this Saturday at 1:00 PM. The Red Bulls are coming off of a 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena against the New England Revolution while NYCFC are on a five-game winless streak and lost in their last regular season match against Charlotte FC.

NYCFC have an 8-3-4 record at home this season, which has been one of the best in the entire league this season but, lately, they have played their last three home games away from Yankee Stadium and have gone winless in each of them. As far as the head-to-head record between these clubs, the Red Bulls have the edge with a 3-1-1 record in the last five meetings between these MLS Eastern Conference Rivals.

Earlier this week, the Red Bulls clinched a playoff berth, so they may rest assured they will make the playoffs for the 13th straight MLS season but their head coach, Gerhard Struber wants to make it clear that this was no easy feat.

First of all, I think our whole season was not so easy. We started with [a lot of new] players and we are a young group. We always had different [obstacles] with young players that we don't always speak about publicly, but this is not always so easy to handle so this is monumental for me. We are a big team with a big staff, and I can say big thanks to all my staff members for their help, and every single player for giving everything in the battle that we realize right now the playoffs. This is a big [achievement] from a very young group and now is the moment we fight for third place, and we will fight for that until the last game in the conference.

Although Red Bull have clinched playoff soccer this Fall, home-field advantage matters which means they cannot hold back in tomorrow's derby for one huge reason. That's that NYCFC are four points behind them in the standings and a win would bring them within one point of tying the Red Bulls for third-place in the Eastern Conference standings.

However, it's important note that in the last Hudson River Derby of the 2021 MLS season, the Red Bulls will be without defensive midfielder Dru Yearwood who is serving a three-game suspension. The good news is that in Yearwood's absence several players such as rookie midfielder, Daniel Edelman who scored his first goal on Aug. 27 have stepped up. That list also includes midfielder, Christian Casseres who plays both attacking and defensive midfield and filled in for Yearwood at the six position very well in the last game, which was a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution. Over the course of this season, Casseres has contributed six assists and has a goal and three assists in the team's last three matches. This has been a very good sign but who are the players that Struber's Red Bulls will lineup against on Saturday? Let's find out.

Top Players for Red Bull and NYCFC

Every Red Bulls fan remembers their boys going to Yankee Stadium last year and steealing three points from NYCFC in a 1-0 victory. Omir Fernandez's goal on a great pass from Kyle Duncan was a great memory for Red Bulls fans but was a painful one that New York City FC fans and their players of course do not remember as fondly. However, at this point in the season, the Red Bulls are a much better team than they were last year.

In terms of NYCFC's starting lineups, this year they have featured younger midfielders and the one who has stood out the most is Santiago Rodriguez. Since joining New York City FC in June, Rodriguez has three goals and 12 assists, and those 12 assists rank right behind last year’s league Most-Valuable Player, Carles Gil for the fifth-most in MLS this season. Right behind him in NYCFC point rankings is Gabriel Pereira Dos Santos who has seven goal and he is tied with fellow Brazilian Heber while Talles Magno, the Brazilian forward has six goals.

All are dangerous players that the Red Bulls starting goalkeeper Carlos Coronel will need to be aware of tomorrow. Now in his second MLS season, Coronel has started in net for all but one of his team's 31 matches during this regular season and he discussed which of NYCFC's attacking players he will be most focused on stopping.

Of course, we know that NYCFC has many great players, especially at the top like Talles Magno. We know he can really score. All the Brazilians over there are very strong up top. Overall, they have a very good forward and attacking side from their end and we understand that defensively we will have to be strong for this game and also, we have to take any advantage that we can from our own end right away.

City's recent struggles can only be taken as good news by the Red Bulls who have the best away record in MLS this season. This is a big reason why their Coach Struber is confident that his team can go to Yankee Stadium and take three points from their rival in what will be a pressure-packed game with a lot riding on it.

Last season, New York City won the title and we have big respect for our opponent, but at the same time we also know our results against them in this season and last…. The last few weeks have given us a lot of confidence. We are ready for a big fight on Saturday and in this direction, the motivation for us will be very, very high. We have a good mindset, like a winner and we will do it on Saturday.

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Anthony graduated from Montclair State University, where he covered a variety of sports for three years. He co-hosts a sports-themed radio show on campus radio station, WMSC 90.3 FM, which was recently named #1 college radio station in the nation.