What did we do to deserve this?
Seriously, who really wants to trek all the way to the other side of the Hudson River on a weeknight for yet another go-round with a team that’s made a habit of perforating New York City FC for fun?
Luckily for New York’s Blues, however, this is not your slightly older brother’s Hudson River Derby. In fact, this is the most atypical Hudson River Derby to date, awash in pleasingly droll narratives that have us so excited that we can’t help but throw sandwich boards.
Let’s get to it!
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT
- GANG’S ALL HERE? Through two US Open Cup games to date, NYCFC has yet to use a single designated player. The squads that took on the New York Cosmos in 2015 and ‘16 we’re not simply rotated; they were the weakest New York City teams ever fielded in a competitive game. With that in mind, perhaps the Cosmos have done NYCFC a favor by losing to fourth-tier Reading United in the second round of the tournament— with a real rival on deck, Patrick Vieira has every reason to go all in with his squad selection. While we don’t expect to see an ironclad first-choice team given the quick turnaround to Saturday’s league date with Seattle, we’ll be shocked if David Villa, Maxi Moralez, Jack Harrison, and Alex Ring don’t have a chance to put their stamp on the proceedings.
- EMPTY NEST: Practically nobody goes to Red Bull Arena (for the life of us, we can’t imagine why that would be). Its announced attendance numbers are among the most laughably inaccurate in Major League Soccer. What are we in store for, then, on a Wednesday evening outside of league play? Yes, it’s a regional rivalry. Yes, The Red Bulls love to hate New York City and its fans. But this match is going to be sparsely attended at best. Home field advantages aren’t entirely immutable, but the advantage afforded to the Jerseyites Wednesday in Harrison is going to be as minimal as it gets. We’re prepared to be proven wrong on this account, but we seriously, seriously doubt it. The only drawback here? If NYCFC thrashes the Toros and none of the locals are there to see it, it’s that much harder to really rub it in their faces.
- BIG TEARS: In parallel with these two ever-jockeying fanbases, this tie features a couple of managers with a pointed distaste for one another. From the jump, Patrick Vieira and Jesse Marsch haven’t shied away from a chance at verbal sparring. Last summer, Marsch engaged in some pre-emptive complaining about MLS refereeing, suggesting that NYCFC’s big international stars receive preferential treatment from officials. Right on cue, after the Red Bulls won the third and final Hudson River Derby of 2016, Vieira claimed that referee Mark Geiger had presided over some home cooking in Harrison because Marsch had been “crying all the week” ahead of the game. "We are completely different as a person and as a character. He's acting one way and I'm acting a different way,” he said. “This is part of the derby.”
New York City takes on the Red Bulls Wednesday, June 14th at 8:00pm ET. The match will stream live on NYCFC.com.