The Hudson River Derby, though not without its moments, has historically been a rough experience for fans of New York City FC. Despite getting a scrappy win here and a triumphant win there, the rival New York Red Bulls seem to have always battered around the Boys in Blue way more often than NYCFC has been able to outclass their New Jersey based opponents.
The most infamous of these blowouts came on May 21, 2016, the fourth-ever meeting between the two clubs — the infamous Red Wedding where the Bulls destroyed City 7-0 in Yankee Stadium. Since that game, NYCFC have largely been the better team in the fixture and have won 6 league matches against NYRB with the latter collecting four and drawing two additional results.
But still, that dominant blowout derby win has evaded NYCFC. Until Sunday, that is.
On a cold, rainy night in the Bronx, New York City finally asserted their dominance in a big 5-2 win in an empty Yankee Stadium.
Things couldn’t have possibly started better for NYCFC. After a back-and-forth first ten minutes of the game, Jesus Medina was able to dispossess a Red Bulls defender on the high press before switching the point of attack to Maxi Moralez on the far side. The Argentinian then did what he does best and picked out Taty Castellanos on a cross, who effortlessly headed the ball past goalkeeper Ryan Meara to give the good guys an early 1-0 advantage.
The lead would not last long, however, as the Bulls would answer back not long after.
In the 18th minute, NYCFC was doing some impressive defensive work at the top of their own area, constantly winning balls and stifling NYRB’s ability to penetrate the box. But with each successful tackle, City could not buy a bounce for a much-needed clearance. Eventually, the ball found the Bulls’ Brian White who was able to unleash a seeing-eye shot through NYCFC’s defense and just past a diving Sean Johnson to level the game.
Thing were made worse when in the 38th minute, Cristian Casseres scored on a shot that took a heavy deflection off of Maxime Chanot before trickling into City’s net giving the Jersey Boys a 2-1 lead.
At this point, the match felt like it would be a repeat of performances past where City fails to match the intensity of their red-clad adversaries and let them run away with the contest. But late in the half, the Boys in Blue would restore hope.
On another high press, NYCFC would dispossess the Bulls in the attacking third. After an initial connection between Anton Tinnerholm and Medina, Moralez would again be the one pulling the strings as he again found Castellanos with a simple touch pass. Having overran the ball’s trajectory, Taty was able to stretch and ever-so-gently touch the ball into the path of Gary Mackay-Steven, who would force the ball past Meara in goal to knot the game at 2-2 going into the halftime break.
Gaz’s much needed equalizer would prove to be the spark NYCFC needed to reestablish themselves as the aggressor. And in the second half, it was all City.
Just five minutes into the new half, team captain Alexander Ring would receive a quick throw-in from Medina and unleashed a Goal of the Year candidate with his weaker left foot. With some space at the top of the area, Ring curled a thunderbolt that went past a helpless Meara and rattled off the crossbar into the goal to give City their second lead of the game.
From there, the floodgates would open for the Boys in Blue. In the 76th minute, Mackay-Steven would deliver a dangerous ball into the danger area. Despite not being able to connect with Medina at the right wing, the ball would carom towards Castellanos in space who would strike the ball on the half volley to double City’s lead 4-2 and give the team some much-needed insurance going into the game’s final phase.
But the fun wouldn’t stop there.
Not content with a two-goal lead, NYCFC would continue their offensive onslaught. The last wave of attacking culminated with Moralez being dropped in the box by Tim Parker in the 83rd minute. Without pause, Castellanos stepped up to spot. Sure enough, Meara went right while Taty went left giving the Argentinian his first-ever professional hat trick and NYCFC a dominant 5-2 victory.
What a game. What a performance.
The impressive 5-2 victory gives NYCFC their third straight win. And with the MLS Cup Playoffs just around the corner following a 2020 regular season finale against the Chicago Fire on November 8, all this forward momentum is of the utmost importance for a City side that is finally starting to gel.