NYCFC: Pride, More Than Anything, At Stake in New York Derby
Jun 14, 2017; Kearny, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) and New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring (8) battle for the ball during second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls play NYCFC on Saturday, Jun. 24 in what is their second meeting in ten days and first of the MLS season.

The New York Red Bulls and New York City Football Club are two of the biggest teams in the MLS. Both in name and fan base, these two teams represent one of the largest sporting regions of the world, New York City.

RBNY and NYCFC both attract huge names to their organizations. In the RBNY’s long MLS history, names like Bradley Wright-Phillips, Juan Pablo Angel, Tim Cahill, Sacha Kljestan, and of course Thierry Henry ring a bell.

For NYCFC’s short MLS history designated players such as David Villa, Maxi Moralez, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo come to mind.

While undoubtedly important to any MLS side, how big of an impact do designated players have on these two sides? Between RBNY and NYCFC, whose DP’s have performed better?

New York Red Bulls DP’s (only a few)

Stats are MLS Regular Season

Bradley Wright-Phillips

Games Played: 123
Goals Scored: 77
Assists: 15

Sacha Kljestan

Games Played: 80
Goals Scored: 14
Assists: 40

Thierry Henry

Games Played: 122
Goals: 51
Assists: 42

Juan Pablo Angel

Games Played: 102
Goals: 58
Assists: 14

Tim Cahill

Games Played: 62
Goals: 14
Assists: 10

New York City Football Club’s DP’s (only a few)

David Villa

Games Played: 78
Goals: 51
Assists: 18

Maxi Moralez

Games Played: 15
Goals: 2
Assists: 7

Andrea Pirlo

Games Played: 53
Goals: 1
Assists: 16

Frank Lampard

Games Played: 29
Goals: 15
Assists: 4

Who’s DP’s win out?

While my opinion may be a bit bias, RBNY certainly are known for their strong classes of DP’s. Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Sacha Kljestan all contributed to winning the Supporters’ Shield. Their importance to the team cannot be underestimated.

NYCFC’s designated players, on the other hand, have not won any MLS hardware. Trophies aside, NYCFC’s designated players draw crowds of over 20,000 fans consistently. This is for good reason, NYCFC’s DP’s have posted outstanding numbers.

In this case, both teams, past and present owe much of their successes to their DP’s. Who could forget all of the timely headers Tim Cahill provided, or the countless goals Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips have produced. NYCFC’s David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo certainly have contributed to the team’s early popularity and competitiveness in the MLS.

Time will tell which side has been more successful with DP’s. RBNY have been fortunate that players such as BWP, Thierry Henry, and Juan Pablo Angel have played for over 100 games. In one more season, David Villa will approach this mark at which time his contribution to NYCFC will match those of some RBNY DP’s.

I believe that RBNY’s DP’s slightly edge NYCFC’s DP’s. While important to the team NYCFC’s DP’s toughest task is to establish the team as a force to reckon with in the Eastern Conference. With RBNY’s Eastern Conference dominance, due to DP’s like Henry, Angel, and BWP they will rein supreme.

What to expect on Saturday

In terms of DP matchups, Sacha Kljestan commented about Saturday’s game preparations. He stated, “We’re prepared to match them physically,” and “sprinting is going to be key.”

As one who understands this rivalry, Kljestan reflected on RBNY’s previous USOC match again NYCFC. In reference to the lineup he noted, “that was pretty much their strongest line-up they had available.” Where reserve teams are usually played in early USOC play, both RBNY and NYCFC put their strongest line-ups forward.

Expect no different on Saturday where three league points and bragging rights in the Hudson River Derby are again up for grabs. In light of their historically good home record, Kljestan and RBNY expect to defend their dominance in the Derby as well as at Red Bull Arena.

Kljestan added, “There’s nothing to really like about NYCFC.” As he also mentioned his respect for the club and their DP’s impact, there is no doubt that Kljestan is looking for a win on Saturday.

RBNY’s won their last meeting 1-0 against NYCFC in the fourth round of this year’s USOC. This brings the total Hudson River Derby record to 6-1 in favor of RBNY. A goal difference of 19-5 in favor of RBNY separates the two sides.

In the second out of four matchups this season, RBNY look to claim another win against NYCFC. This will bring RBNY’s total wins against NYCFC to seven and two on the season. Also, it would bring the team within one point of their New York rivals.

There is much to be played for on Saturday. Designated players will play a big role in the match as they have in the past. For BWP, Sacha Kljestan, and Gonzalo Veron, Saturday’s win will add to a legacy of DP’s influence on successful seasons for RBNY. For David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, and Maxi Moralez, it will be a test of their value to NYCFC and effort to control RBNY’s dominance.

Chris Sudol is a former college soccer player who now avidly supports the New York Red Bulls, Arsenal, and Barcelona, among many other soccer teams.