Matt Miazga
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

Ex-New York Red Bulls man Matt Miazga was one of the most contemptuous players to play in the Hudson Derby.

Onz Chery

This Jersey boy wasn’t afraid of The Bronx. In fact, he trolled The Bronx Blues right in their home. He was the first player to see red in the New York Derby.

Former New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga marked himself as a public figure and a public enemy during the early days of the Hudson River Derby in 2015.

Miazga received the first red card of the rivalry. No one could ever forget his impudent home run celebration in front of a sea of blue New York City F.C. fans at the Yankee Stadium.

The young defender was bold, insolent and aggressive. He was everything you need in a derby—especially a New York Derby. Miazga wasn’t just a public figure in the Hudson Derby in 2015, he earned himself a legendary spot in the rivalry.

The Red Card

As mentioned, the center back was the first player to warrant a red card in the rivalry.

It happened in the 35th minute of the first game of the derby on May 10, 2015. The score was 1-0 in favor of the Metros.

David Villa juked past Miazga in the Cityzen’s half with a splendid first touch. The counter was on. Villa let the ball roll to NYCFC’s 2015 second draft pick, Khiry Shelton.

Shelton is a pacy forward, Villa is a World Cup winner, and the two of them were bolting through the heart of the Red Bulls’ midfield. Damien Perrinelle was the only RBNY field-player behind the halfway mark.

What has Miazga done by letting Villa sneak behind him? It’s the New York Derby, NYCFC can’t score at Red Bull Arena. The then-19-year-old recognized the danger of his mistake and sprinted for his life behind Shelton. By the time he arrived at his mark, it was too late.

A firm push in the back sent Shelton sliding on the turf. Job well done from Miazga, no goal for NYCFC from his mistake. But the referee blew his whistle. Miazga was on a yellow card. He knew what was coming.

The referee raised his yellow card then his red card. The Red Bulls had to play with 10 players for the remaining 55 minutes. What had Miazga done?

Despite being outnumbered, Jesse Marsch’s men won the encounter, 2-1. If you had to pick a good red card, this was the one.

Miazga stopped an NYCFC counter-attack and got a good push on their promising rookie. All this for an early shower in the locker room without any consequences on the scoreline.

The foul was more of a tactical one than a dirty one. That said, there’s more to come about Miazga’s dirty side in the New York Derby.

The Celebration

The Red Bulls had a second date with their new rivals the following month on June 28, 2015. Their rising star was eager to make up for his red card.

“Unfortunately, last game I got a red card early in the game. So that was kind of in the back of my head. You know, I have to perform. I have to contribute for my team,” the American said in a post-match interview with the club.

The second Hudson Derby didn’t start well for the older New York team. NYCFC opened the scoring in the sixth minute through Tommy McNamara.

Miazga froze after the ball kissed the net. McNamara ran on the pitch with his arms spread wide. Yankee Stadium exploded. It was their first time scoring against the “New Jersey team” at their home field.

The Red Bulls tied it up in the 46th minute, thanks to a Bradley Wright-Phillips volley.

Chris Duvall made it, 2-1, for The Metros with a volley of his own from the six-yard box in the 52nd minute. Miazga ran to the coaching staff on the sideline alongside his teammates and punched the air in ecstasy.

It wasn’t done. There was one more goal with a celebration for the ages to come.

The Red Bulls had a free-kick on the right-wing in the 73rd minute. It was Miazga-time and his captain Dax McCarty knew it.

“Before the goal Dax was like ‘You’re going to get one, you’re going to get one. Drift to the back post and I’ll go near,'” Miazga recalled.

The defender had never scored as a professional before. Miazga stood in front of NYCFC’s midfielder Andrew Jacobson in the box, waiting for Sacha Kljestan to send his delivery.

When Kljestan whipped the ball across the goal, Miazga moved to the far post then jumped behind Jacobson, a 6-foot-2 midfielder, to head the ball to the near post.

“I rose highest […] and it went in,” the center back said before letting out a big smile.

He ran and jumped in the air, hugging McCarty to celebrate. The best part of his celebration was yet to come. Miazga gestured his teammate Felipe Martins to come to him.

“Felipe told everyone ‘whoever scores let’s do the home-run thing,'” he said.

Wright-Phillips scored an equalizer but didn’t do it. Duvall netted a go-ahead goal but didn’t do it. It was up to the youngest player on the pitch to do one of the bravest and most teasing celebrations in New York sports history.

Miazga and Felipe ran to the sideline and acted as if they were swinging a baseball bat. They wanted to remind their rivals that Yankee Stadium was built for baseball.

Miazga’s swing couldn’t hit a baseball past first base but it energized the derby a ton.

To back up his legendary celebration, the center half put up an impressive display. He kept Villa in his pocket, bumped him and trash-talked him. NYCFC’s beloved superstar was getting pushed around by a teenager.

The Red Bulls won their following encounter against the Pigeons, 2-0, with Miazga in the starting lineup. That was the last time the Red Bull product enjoyed a win against the Boys in Blue before transferring to Chelsea F.C.

In only three games versus RBNY’s rivals, Miazga did more than enough to inscribe his name in the history of the New York rivalry.

The Red Bulls dismantled NYCFC, 7-0, in their first Derby without him on May 21, 2016. McCarty took over with the teasing. The midfielder tweeted touchdown after the game.

The derby awaits more Red Bull players to follow Miazga’s footsteps with the teasing.

Originally from Haiti, Ralph 'Onz' Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz started covering the New York Red Bulls for ESNY and joined Haitian Times.