I hate that I'm writing this recap. I cannot believe what I just watched here at Yankee Stadium. I cannot believe that, on its third anniversary, this is how New York City Football Club performed. I cannot believe that, with first place in the East on the line, having played superbly at Portland, stoutly in Toronto and in DC, that New York City delivered this performance?
You want a tactical analysis of the game? Here you go:
The Blues gave up seven goals. Seven. Seven! SEVEN. Do you know how hard it is to surrender seven goals in a soccer game? And yet, somehow, the Blues managed to do that. They gave them up on set pieces. They have them up in the run of play. They gave them up against the run of play. Both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dax McCarty scored a brace. All three Red Bulls subs - Alex Muyl, Gideon Baah, and Gonzalo Veron - scored. You could watch soccer for a hundred years, and you'll never see all three subs score in a game.
That's how pathetic, how abject, this performance was. I'm struggling to think of highlights. Well, Jack Harrison made his debut, and didn't get injured. And Frank Lampard made his debut. That's about it, I guess. Oh, and the Blues are still in a play-off position. Not that it matters, because if you don't win home games, you
Wait, did they score again? Seriously? Oh, wait, never mind, that was a Red Bulls player taking target practice for next time.
Alexi Lalas called this the "biggest rivalry" in MLS. With all due respect: no. This isn't a rivalry period. It can't be. Not when the Red Bulls are now 4-0-0, and have outscored New York City 14-2. Fourteen to two. Hell, it's 8-0 in their "home" stadium that they can't seem to win in. That's not a rivalry. That's a major-league team beating down on its B-squad.
Just like last year, the Red Bulls struck first right away. This time, it was Dax McCarty, in the third minute, on a set-piece header. Unlike last year, the Blues collected themselves, and were growing into the game. New York City had several decent scoring forays, but repeatedly came up empty.
In the 42nd minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored on another set-piece. Then, five minutes later, the dagger: a Wright-Phillips bike that made the score 3-0. The Blues were never in this one afterwards.
Dax McCarty scored the fourth goal - his second - in the 51st. In the 54th, sub Alex Muyl notched his first career goal. Then, as the game meandered to its ignominious conclusion, Gonzalo Veron made it six in the 83rd minute. Finally, as the Red Bulls fans implored for a seventh, New York City's defense obliged, letting Gideon Baah slot it home.
Where do the Blues go from here? It's genuinely hard to say. This is a better team than last year in some respects. But what makes it frustrating to determine how good it is is that they'll go from beating the defending champions on the road in a comprehensive shut-out to getting destroyed at home by their biggest rivals. Are they a playoff team? Who knows?
But they're not, sorry to say, a playoff-caliber team. It doesn't help that Patrick Vieira continues to instruct the team to play the ball out of the back, despite the fact that neither keeper Josh Saunders nor defenders like Frederic Brillant are adequate at doing that. And while it might help instil an identity into the team, their opponents have clearly adapted to how New York City play.
Clearly, Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls have. So how do the Blues respond? Unless Vieira can, in turn, adapt himself to that new reality, the sad truth is that they cannot. And if they cannot adapt, then why should Blues fans accept that? They shouldn't. They're not asking for New York City to crush everything before them; they simply want a team that's competitive in a game like this. Especially in a game like this.
The next game in the Hudson River Derby is July 3rd, also at Yankee Stadium. It cannot possibly go any worse than today's game.