- Don’t get cute. Yangel Herrera’s yellow card suspension means Patrick Vieira’s squad selection won’t be a walk in the park. But this team has snatched control of this rivalry by sticking to the plan no matter who’s available. There’s no need to go wild — like starting Andrea Pirlo or trying Rodney Wallace at fullback — in search of style points. Further:
- For now, Jonathan Lewis should remain a super-sub. Let the kid eat! Eat up space in the late going, that is. A true star in the making, Lewis is a menace of an athlete and wastes surprisingly few touches. He stands to make the biggest impact off the bench when the opposition is gassed.
- Do whatever it takes to get Jack Harrison involved. The Bolton Brawler has cooled off after a serious hot streak, but he’s NYCFC’s only first-choice starter that’s scored in multiple derbies. It’s time to get back in the saddle.
- Don’t let them play keep-away. New York City ranks third in the league in possession at 54.5%, but both previous Derby successes this year have seen the Red Bulls win that battle by double digits. While you clearly don’t have to dominate the ball to win games, the good guys tend to be more comfortable when they do.
- Resist the temptation to think about Toronto. NYCFC still has a chance to catch the current Supporters’ Shield leaders down the stretch. But they aren’t Friday’s opponent.
- No yellows for Alexander Callens. The fleet-footed guard dog of New York City’s back line, Callens will have his hands full chasing Bradley Wright-Phillips, who loves scoring against the Blue team. A booking, particularly an early one, will put a serious damper on the Peruvian’s ability to play fast and aggressive.
- Go for the kill on set pieces. This year, it’s finally the Red Bulls who have struggled to defend set piece chances for a change. Ben Sweat’s headed beauty the last time these teams met in Harrison is an all-time Hudson River Derby highlight— and it’s reproducible.
- Start Ethan White over RJ Allen at right fullback. New York City can beat the red team with either guy in the XI, but Allen’s aggressiveness can be his own worst enemy, and this is an opponent that can really burn you in the wide areas.
- Let Jesse Marsch run his mouth. He likes to complain when these teams play. If he gets sent off, cool. Just enjoy it.
- Got a late lead? Don’t let up! The Boys in Blue have a chance to make it a clean sweep against the Red Bulls in league play. No advantage should be considered secure until the final whistle blows— attacking subs shouldn’t just be reserved for teams desperate for a late goal.
“Doctors hate these simple tricks!”