11 months, 22 days. 51 weeks. 357 days.
That’s how long it’s been since New York City defeated the New York Red Bulls in the Hudson River Derby. Goals by Jack Harrison and Ben Sweat made the difference in a hot day in Harrison, NJ. It was the first win in four attempts for the Blues in Red Bull Arena, and only the second win in the derby’s brief history.
New York City were without the services of midfield engineer Maxi Moralez for the second straight game, but this didn’t deter manager Patrick Vieira, who stuck with his preferred 4-3-3 alignment. Blues cult hero Tommy McNamara started in the number 10 role in place of Moralez.
The game — as customary in this rivalry — got off to a disjointed start, with the Red Bulls trying to disrupt the Blues’ passing rhythms. But New York City controlled matters from the start. The Pigeons had the best chance to score in the opening 20 minutes. Villa slipped a smooth pass to Rodney Wallace, who found a wide-open Jack Harrison in the box. Harrison struck with his left-foot, but the swerving shot was palmed away by a diving Luis Robles.
As the first half ground on, New York City dominated the passages of play more and more. Finally, in the 33rd minute, the Blues’ dominance paid off.
New York City had ravaged the right side of the Red Bulls defense all through the first half, and this was no different. The Red Bulls’ Michael Amir Murillo was frozen by Rodney Wallace, and left back Ben Sweat delivered a pinpoint cross into the box. Tyler Adams gave Harrison all kinds of time and space on the ball -- and when you do that, Harrison’s going to bring the pain.
Things only got worse for New York from there. Yangel Herrera just barely missed making it 2-0 at halftime for the visitors with this passage of play.
New York City continued bossing play all through the second half, coming close twice to scoring. In desperation, Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch made a double substitution at the hour mark, bringing on Sal Zizzo and Gonzalo Veron on for Murillo and Daniel Royer. The switch made the Red Bulls play even more directly to goal, but it was for naught, as the Blues continued throttling the Red Bulls.
In the 65th minute, the Blues finally notched their second goal thanks to a Ben Sweat header.
Midfielder Alexander Ring took a free kick near midfield. His looping delivery found a wide-open Sweat, who delivered the back post header with aplomb. It was his first career MLS goal, and it sealed the three points for New York City.
The Red Bulls tried getting a response, but New York City controlled the game and stifled any possibility of a comeback with smart defensive play. For all that New York’s vaunted high press has haunted the Blues in the past, New York City finally solved it, and the Red Bulls were left without any response.