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NYC FC Weekly Opponent Scouting Report: New York Red Bulls

Sunday, NYC FC and RBNY get together for their third and final meeting of the 2016 season, promising to be cagey affair from the start.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Hudson River Blue’s weekly opponent scouting report. We’ll use this column to preview our upcoming opponents and provide some insight into what to expect.

Last Time We Played

We finally did it y’all! We beat a team from New York for the first time in franchise history, taking it to New York Red Bulls 2-0 at Yankee Stadium. In a total effort, NYC FC comfortably took victory against its bitter rivals.

It started with Jumping Jack Harrison scoring a magical goal in the 8th minute, flipping the ball over two Red Bulls defenders and slotting past Luis Robles low and hard. Red Bulls pressured NYC FC after the goal, getting their best chance in the 58’ when Felipe missed a header from point blank range after a strange shot/pass was fired into the danger area. New York City grabbed the clinching second goal in the 66th on a lovely counterattacking move that freed Jack on the right flank. A$AP Jacky played a perfectly weighted ball to David Villa, who put the ball in the back of the net first time. Of note, Chris Duvall received a red card in the 79th following a dangerous foul against Andrea Pirlo.

What’s Happened Since Then

It hasn’t been long. Both team have played three games, with Red Bulls taking five points from the three. The team drew 0-0 with Portland Timbers, beat the struggling Orlando City 2-0, and drew against Philadelphia Union 2-2. While the points haul was solid, Once a Metro contributor Huan Nyugen told us in our three questions piece that, aside from the Orlando win, Red Bulls have looked lackluster and have underachieved in the three matches.

Meanwhile, NYC FC won twice and lost once in three away matches, taking six points total and extending their lead at the top of the table (o hell yes).

How They Play

Jesse Marsch, noted complainer and Red Bulls coach, is famous for his high press tactics. The team’s identity starts with its press, which asks its forwards and midfielders to pinch in and force mistakes from the opposition. The fullbacks push high up the field both on offense and at times defensively, which can open them up to counterattacking opportunities. Red Bulls have notoriously feasted on NYC FC’s insistence on playing out the back, but NYC got the better of RBNY in their last meeting.

Opponent mistakes play into Red Bulls’ hands offensively. The team is excellent at capitalizing on any errors and convert at a high rate from FKs and other set pieces. The team ranks third in MLS in corners attempted with 119.

Red Bulls run into trouble when they play their pressing style and become over eager, or are playing from behind. The strategy can implode and concede counterattacking moves to its opponents. RBNY sometimes struggle to control the ball and build up play from the back, and can become over reliant on forcing opponent mistakes.

Player to Watch

The engine of the midfield is Sacha Kljestan, the 30 year old America center attacking midfielder. With four 4 and 8 assists, Kljestan is well on his way to replicating his excellent 2015 campaign in which he scored 8 and assisted on 14. His 7.44 average match rating (according to whoscored.com) is the best among the team in 18 starting appearances.

Sacha Kljestan 2015 Highlights

Kljestan always finds himself in dangerous positions offensively. He has a great nose for the goal and a wicked shot from distance. He’s best as a creator and distributor, especially on set pieces. Kljestan leads the team in key passes per game, completing 3.2 per contest (soccerway.com). He killed NYC FC last season, but is yet to score or assist in the first two meetings.

Prediction

In a cagey affair that will feature more cautions than goals, both New York clubs come away with one point. 1-1, with goals coming from BWP and Frank the Tank.

Here's what some of our writers had to say:

2-1 New York Blues. Villa and Lampard score.

-Calvin Daniel

Jump into the comments section and give us your take on the game what what might happen!