NYCFC deserve to feel good about themselves after a tough midweek away win against FC Dallas. The victory was equal parts tactics and grit: Interim head coach Nick Cushing put out a surprising lineup that delivered a 1-0 result against a talented Dallas squad in the relentless Texas heat. It is arguably the most important win this season.
The Red Bulls are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw at FC Cincinnati that has them questioning their attack. New Jersey’s lone goal came from a penalty kick, and they couldn’t put together a coherent attacking sequence despite being up a player after Cincinnati’s Allan Cruz was shown a 58’ red card. Note that the game was played last week: Not only are the Red Bulls at home, they’re playing on seven days rest to NYCFC’s three.
The Red Bulls have historically dominated NYCFC. The two teams have faced each other a total of 22 times in all competitions, and it isn't even close.
NYCFC vs Red Bulls, All Competitions
Match: NYCFC play New Jersey Red Bulls
Date and Time: Sunday, July 17, 5 pm ET
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Forecast: Warm and sticky, 84˚F/29˚C
Watch: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Listen: English and Spanish broadcasts on NYCFC Radio
• Injury Report: Keaton Parks is out after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot, and Anton Tinnerholm is out with a lower-body injury. Thiago Martins, Maxi Moralez, and Alex Callens are questionable. Taty Castellanos, who missed the game against Cincinnati because of yellow card accumulation, is available.
• Cushing said in his pregame press conference that this is nothing more than another league game and a chance to win three points, which feels disingenuous: We know that the rivalry between these two teams is so much more. Not only do New Jersey usually win, they usually embarrass NYCFC.
• This is a game that will be decided by the defense. If NYCFC play as they did on Wednesday against Dallas, when center-back Thiago Martins kept the back three organized and focused, they could get a result. If NYCFC play as they did when they were last in Harrison, when they lost their cool and gave the game to the Red Bulls, expect New Jersey to add another to the win column.
• How will Cushing line up the squad? After Wednesday’s surprise 3-4-3 it’s anybody’s guess.
• Will Moralez be back on the field? Santiago Rodríguez looked comfortable in the No 10 role against Dallas, and Justin Haak put in a strong performance in the midfield. Will Cushing go for youth and speed in the July heat? Or will he want the experience and intelligence Moralez brings to the squad?
• The Red Bulls are known for their press but it let them down last week when they played Cincinnati. As our frenemies at Once a Metro put it, the team was “creating a steady supply of low-intensity attacks but basically zero true openings outside of Lewis Morgan’s successfully-converted penalty.”
• Even if the press didn’t create a goal from open play despite being a player up for more than 30 minutes, it succeeded in driving Cincinnati crazy. The team “was baited into the type of second half meltdown that should be familiar to New York fans,” according to Once a Metro.
• The Red Bulls continue to lead MLS in fouls committed with 308 in 20 games. Well done.
• Red Bull Arena is even more of a fortress than Yankee Soccer Stadium when it comes to the Hudson River Derby. New York City have won only once in New Jersey, while the Red Bulls have won three games in the Bronx.
• But Red Bull Arena hasn’t been so friendly to New Jersey this year. The Red Bulls were winless at home in MLS league play until May 28, and now post a 3-4-2 record in Harrison.
• The oddsmakers pick New Jersey to win. Still, New York City were the underdogs on Wednesday and we saw how that went. As of the publication of this article, BetMGM gives Taty Castellanos and New Jersey’s Lewis Morgan even odds to score, followed by Luquinhas, Héber, and Patryk Klimala.
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Update: The NYCFC Starting XI was announced at 4:06 pm ET