NYCFC will seek only their second ever victory against the Red Bulls and with it, derby pride that has been absent thus far.
New York City FC recent victory over Seattle places them in a strong position in the race to earn qualification for the playoffs. One game away from the midpoint of their regular season, NYCFC sit in third, and five points ahead of sixth-place Columbus Crew with a game in hand.
Though it was one game only, their victory against the Sounders is a welcome one for several reasons. From a table standpoint, it allows Patrick Vieira’s men to retain their place at the upper end.
However, it was also a sign that the consistency of this side may finally witness an improvement. Seattle’s current place in the Western Conference, though lower in the table, would reasonably instill doubt into the back of supporters’ minds. NYC had already dropped several points against teams of a similar profile, and after defeats to Atlanta, D.C, and Salt Lake, and draws to New England and Montreat, a similar result against the Sounders wouldn’t have been off the cards.
Yet, despite falling behind, NYC FC managed to battle back to claim all three points. After a victory against the Union, who also sit just a few places above the bottom of Eastern Conference, it appears that NYC are beginning to manage fixtures that appear winnable.
However, NYC’s record at the top end of the table is rather impressive. Victories against Orlando and Columbus away from home, the Earthquakes at Yankee Stadium, and a draw at Dallas have all served as evidence to NYC’s quality and their status as one of the strongest sides in the MLS.
Top of the table fixtures are always critical to the finishes of teams in such positions, and as such, NYC’s strong record in these matches is a positive sign. Should their performances avoid dependence on the positions of their opponents, the Boys in Blue may well reignite their campaign to claim a top spot in the Eastern Conference.
NYC’s upcoming fixture with the Red Bulls may not directly impact which team finishes above the other, but carries great significance nonetheless. Only once have NYC FC recorded a victory over the Red Bulls, while every other meeting has produced a Red Bulls victory, at times to the humiliation of the 2015 MLS debutants.
NYC’s most recent defeat to the Red Bulls in the U.S Open Cup must provoke a response. While a series of strong results does produce confidence, so does a derby victory.
Understandably, the Red Bulls have been superior throughout the past two seasons, but an NYC victory could really spark talk and belief that local dominance may make its way across the Hudson River.
The Boys in Blue sit four points ahead of their local rivals, and could increase this gap to seven with a victory on Saturday. Just as NYC have been great against the MLS’s top sides, the Red Bulls have slumped to some embarrassing defeats during the first half of the regular season, and though they emerged victorious a few days ago, NYC have great reason to believe that they can claim their first ever win in Harrison.
As the profile of NYC’s victories go, significant fixtures have been NYC’s strong point this season. Though the upcoming derby may not have too great a say at the top of the table, NYC FC will look for pride and bragging rights more than anything when the derby kicks off on Saturday.