The last Hudson River Derby match of 2022 took place on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium between NYCFC and the visiting Red Bulls. New York City FC won handily and are now just one point behind the Red Bulls for third place in the East with two games left in the MLS regular season.
It didn't go anywhere near how well Red Bull head coach Gerhard Struber, or the fans thought it would. The Red Bulls came into this final meeting of the 2022 MLS season against NYCFC feeling confident after a strong win over New England, but the Revs were not a playoff team and thus not a good measuring stick for the Red Bulls to play against, heading into a game against the team that is right behind them and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
This was a big game for the defending MLS cup champion NYCFC. Red Bulls win and take three points, and NYCFC has no chance of catching them for third place. If City won, then all of a sudden, they're one point behind Red Bull and can overtake them with two games remaining.
A Wild Start to the Hudson River Derby
Both sides looked energized following the opening kick, but things would not start well for Red Bull as early as the first minute of the match. New York City FC won a corner kick, which was taken by midfielder Maxi Moralez. He sent a low cross away from the players in the center of the 18-yard box where Santiago Rodriguez flicked it to the penalty spot, right in front of Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel. NYCFC center back Alex Callens broke free of a Red Bull defender and headed the ball past a surprised Coronel to give City the early lead.
Callens powers one home to give us the lead inside a minute 🇵🇪 pic.twitter.com/CnypMYOQvQ
— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) September 17, 2022
Despite giving up the game's first goal so early, the Red Bulls almost answered back quickly. In the tenth minute, midfielder Lewis Morgan sent a cross from the left wing into the box and it was bobbled by NYCFC Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, leaving a loose ball in the middle of the box. The loose ball was pounced on by Lucas Linhares (Luquinhas) who dribbled away from a city defender and took a shot as quick as he could, but NYCFC center back, Callens blocked his shot.
Creating chances. pic.twitter.com/CW4QJlxUCb
— x - New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) September 17, 2022
However, the Red Bulls defensive struggles were not over. NYCFC's second goal was also the product of a corner but this time Red Bulls could not clear the ball out of their box. This allowed NYCFC a second chance to cross the ball a second time to the back post where Rodriguez was left unmarked and scored.
Ten minutes before halftime, for Red Bulls, Morgan crossed from the left wing into the box. Aaron Long headed the ball strongly into the ground and off the right post. The loose ball was picked up and scored by Elias Manoel and the goal looked like it would stand and that the Red Bulls newest player had scored his first MLS goal, but it was reviewed. After VAR, it was shown that Manoel was slightly offside and the goal was waved off, leaving the Red Bulls with a two-goal deficit heading into halftime.
Second Half and Post Match Reactions
Shortly after the teams entered the pitch again, the Red Bulls were actively searching to get on the scoreboard. In the 52', they caught NYCFC by surprise and Luquinhas sent a pass well up ahead for Morgan. By the time Morgan got to the ball, he had entered a few steps into NYCFC's box and had Manoel open in the center, so he passed to Manoel, who couldn't shoot in time and Johnson grabbed the ball, spoiling a grade-A scoring chance for the Red Bulls.
One of the stranger events to happen in the match involved New York City FC's oldest player, Maxi Moralez and the Red Bulls youngest player, Daniel Edelman. Moralez was dribbling with the ball when he was shoved and lost possession, he then ran back to the touch line and took a swipe at Edelman's leg which sent him falling over. Moralez was shown a yellow card for that foul.
In the 62nd minute of the match, Gerhard Struber subbed midfielder Caden Clark out for Bronx, N.Y. native Omir Fernandez and striker Tom Barlow in for Manoel. The Bulls final chance to put a crooked number in the box score came in the 75th minute when Fernandez dribbled with a burst of speed into NYCFC's box and released a quick shot on the volley, but it sailed too high over the net to trouble the goalkeeper.
The final Hudson River Derby of 2022 ended in a 2-0 defeat for Red Bull and with NYCFC sweeping the regular season series, although Red Bull did beat City once this year in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, but it does not count towards the season series.
In the post-match press conference, Coach Struber was asked about why his team conceded two goals on corner kicks in this game.
In the first situation, we were not sharp enough to come in and get good position for the first touch, and then of course, the chance is growing when they have the first touch in the box. In the second one, the problem was that we didn’t step out in the right time. I think this was the biggest problem, not everyone was on the same page and not having the highest focus in this moment to come in a good behavior. This killed us today, this is very painful that set pieces made the difference, but it’s a big part in a football game and we were in these moments a little bit sleepy.
New Jersey native, Daniel Edelman was asked if today's match against NYCFC (a possible playoff opponent) felt like a playoff atmosphere, and he had this to say:
Right from the start, I mean we give up a goal in the opening minute and it's like, OK these guys came ready to play and I don't think we were ready but in moments throughout the game we showed that we have the heart, we have the intensity and we're willing to fight back. It was definitely a playoff-type game but at the end of the day, we needed more energy and enthusiasm.
Next week is the International Break, which means that National Teams will be playing friendly matches for a week and Aaron Long will be with the US Men's National Team for upcoming matches on Sept 23 and 27.
The New York Red Bulls next regular-season match is Oct. 1 against the Columbus Crew. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM and its yet another tough road match against a team that sits in sixth place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings and needs all the points they can get, but for the Red Bulls, their priority should be winning their final two games of the regular season so they can hold onto home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
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.