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Real Talk: The Red Bulls pwn NYCFC

It’s time for that to change.

SOCCER: SEP 22 MLS - New York City FC at New York Red Bulls
When NYCFC and the Red Bulls play, the Red Bulls usually win.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New Jersey Red Bulls aren't just the biggest rivals of New York City FC, they are the club’s greatest tormentors.

No team have dominated NYCFC like the New Jersey Red Bulls — it’s not even close. Games won, goals scored, clean sheets, away wins: New Jersey comes out on top by every measure.

The New Jersey Red Bulls pwn New York City FC.

NYCFC vs Red Bulls, All Competitions

22 6 3 13 22 43 -21

It's not just that New Jersey bully New York City, it’s the nature of that tyranny. The Red Bulls are physical and quick, but more than that they somehow get into the heads of NYCFC players and make them do dumb things on the field. Not only do they embarrass New York City, they get New York City to embarrass themselves.

Here are some of the lowlights:

May 21, 2016

The Red Bulls handed NYCFC their biggest defeat in club history when Jesse Marsch’s squad embarrassed Patrick Vieira’s ascendant team by the score of 7-0 in front of one the largest crowds ever to watch New York City play at Yankee Stadium. Dax McCarthy scored in the third minute, then it went down from there.

May 5, 2018

New Jersey score two goals within the first four minutes of play, which means that those of us who PATHed it to Harrison and didn’t time the trains right heard the home crowd roar in triumph just as we started to climb the stairs in Red Bull Arena, then roar again one minute later before we reached our seats. It was over before it started, and New Jersey went on to beat NYCFFC 4-0.

September 26, 2021

NYCFC started this game with the throttle open, running hard at a mediocre Red Bulls team that looked completely outclassed on the patchy grass at Yankee Soccer Stadium. It felts as if this NYCFC squad that would later lift the MLS Cup were going to tear New Jersey to shreds. They didn't. Instead, a wasteful New York City couldn’t score a goal (sound familiar?), while an opportunistic Red Bulls with just 35% of possession (sound familiar?) and 19 fouls (sound familiar?) managed to find a goal against the run of play (sound familiar?) and embarrass NYCFC at home (sound familiar?).

That could all change this Sunday, when NYCFC travel across state lines to face the Red Bulls in Harrison, NJ. The odds are against New York City. The Red Bulls have three straight clean sheets against NYCFC, including the 3-0 win in the US Open Cup played last month, when New York City lost their cool and gave away the game. New Jersey also have a formidable home-field advantage: New York City have beaten the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena only once, on June 24, 2017. That was back when the New York Times covered NYCFC.

The truth is you can reverse a curse with one game. We saw that last November, when NYCFC defeated Atlanta United 2-0 in the first round of the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. Until that game, New York City had the well-earned reputation of a team that chokes in the postseason, a well-trained squad that succumbs to the yips when the pressure is on. But those of us who were in the stands at Yankee Soccer Stadium that day saw an NYCFC squad that was determined, cohesive, and ruthless. These qualities carried the team through the playoffs as NYCFC won three tough road games, all on short rest. A club that was known for their playoff failures is now known for their postseason triumph.

Is it going too far to say that the hard-fought mid-week win over FC Dallas gives us hope for on Sunday? NYCFC were the underdogs in that game, a depleted squad who had flown across the country to play in the 100-degree heat against a pacey team hungry for a win. But interim head coach Nick Cushing made some surprising tactical adjustments that set up NYCFC to pull off the upset.

Once again, NYCF are the underdogs when they play Red Bulls this weekend. That might not be such a bad thing for NYCFC. Forget about the betting markets: With Cushing on the sidelines, we like New York City’s odds against New Jersey.

NYCFC vs New Jersey Red Bulls, Head-to-Head

Date Home Result Away Competition
Date Home Result Away Competition
6/23/22 Red Bulls W 3 - 0 NYCFC US Open Cup
10/17/21 Red Bulls W 1 - 0 NYCFC MLS
9/26/21 NYCFC 0 - 1 Red Bulls W MLS
9/23/21 Red Bulls 1 - 1 NYCFC MLS
11/2/20 NYCFC W 5 - 2 Red Bulls MLS
8/21/20 Red Bulls W 1 - 0 NYCFC MLS
8/25/19 NYCFC W 2 - 1 Red Bulls MLS
7/15/19 Red Bulls W 2 - 1 NYCFC MLS
8/23/18 NYCFC 1 - 1 Red Bulls MLS
7/9/18 NYCFC W 1 - 0 Red Bulls MLS
6/7/18 Red Bulls W 4 - 0 NYCFC US Open Cup
5/5/18 Red Bulls W 4 - 0 NYCFC MLS
8/26/17 Red Bulls 1 - 1 NYCFC MLS
8/7/17 NYCFC W 3 - 2 Red Bulls MLS
6/24/17 Red Bulls 0 - 2 NYCFC W MLS
6/15/17 Red Bulls W 1 - 0 NYCFC US Open Cup
7/24/16 Red Bulls W 4 - 1 NYCFC MLS
7/3/16 NYCFC W 2 - 0 Red Bulls MLS
5/21/16 NYCFC 0 - 7 Red Bulls W MLS
8/10/15 Red Bulls W 2 - 0 NYCFC MLS
6/28/15 NYCFC 1 - 3 Red Bulls W MLS
5/11/15 Red Bulls W 2 - 1 NYCFC MLS