For the final time, the two New York teams met in the regular season this weekend. The matchup between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC has quickly become one of the most anticipated games in all of MLS, up there with the likes of Seattle-LA and Seattle-Portland. While the games so far have been fairly one-sided (the Red Bulls won two out of three games by scores of 7-0 and 4-1), this rivalry is nevertheless entertaining.
Coming into the weekend, New York City was at the top of the Eastern Conference table, while the Red Bulls trailed behind in 4th place. Red Bull’s coach Jesse Marsch had complained midweek about City’s star players perhaps getting preferential treatment from the league, stating “If he [Villa] or Pirlo or Lampard get touched, they go down, they draw fouls, they draw yellow cards. It’s an epidemic, an epidemic across the league of these referees who want to give the benefit of the doubt to star players”. All eyes were then put on NYC, to see if they could shrug off the accusations and rise to the occasion.
After 45 minutes and the scoreline reading 3-1, it was clear the Red Bulls would cruise to another easy victory. Goals from Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips put their club ahead and they never looked back. NYC coach Patrick Vieira was banished from the sideline in the first half, after confronting referee Mark Geiger about some questionable calls. After the game, an incensed Vieira remarked “I think today [referee Mark Geiger] made more decisions in favor of the Red Bulls because the manager has been crying all the week…One day, it’s for us and one day it’s against us. We understand it …some people don’t and they prefer to cry openly… It worked for them this time.”
Though the rivalry had been somewhat artificial up to this season, it is clear these teams are quickly becoming bitter enemies. The tifos, chants, comments from managers and results on the field have transformed this matchup to the most entertaining in MLS.