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New Jersey Is Blue: NYCFC defeat Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena

Taty Castellanos and a resilient back line led NYCFC to a 1-0 triumph over rival New Jersey Red Bulls for only second Hudson River Derby win in Harrison

MLS: New York City FC at New York Red Bulls
One goal was all NYCFC needed.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC defeated the New Jersey Red Bulls in Red Bull Arena for the first time since 2017, and for only the second time ever. NYCFC walked away with the 1-0 win behind a Taty Castellanos goal in the 69th minute and a defense that hasn't given up a goal in more than 120 minutes of play.

It was tight, it was nerve-racking, but at the end of the day New York City walked out with all three points: It was the kind of performance that makes supporters proud to support their club and brings them to full voice.

New York City controlled possession in the first half and did almost nothing with it while defending the intense press of the Red Bulls. NYCFC created big chances in the second half as they grew into the game, all while shutting down the Red Bulls attack. The defense shined the brightest and put their stamp on the game while defending their 1-0 lead.

This win makes it a nine-point week for NYCFC, who have now put up back-to-back away clean sheets.

Game Stats

NYCFC: 19 shots, 8 on goal, 64.9% possession, 484 passes, 82% accuracy, 11 fouls

New York Red Bulls: 14 shots, 4 on goal, 35.1% possession, 243 passes, 64.6% accuracy, 19 fouls

Dedicated defending

Defending and conceding too many goals had been the main issue building for New York City in the first games under interim head coach Nick Cushing — 14 goals in the first six games to be exact. Cushing stressed the importance of being a rock-solid team that does not concede major chances even when shutting out the opposition. His wish seems to be coming true: New York City now has back-to-back clean sheets, and back-to-back 1-0 away wins.

After the game, Cushing commented on the work put in during training to make this happen. “We haven’t conceded chances... It’s a testament to the hunger and desire of the players,” Cushing said.

The defending on Sunday was what pushed the team towards victory. Aside from Tayvon Gray, who seemed to be MIA whenever there was a Red Bull attack down the right side, the back line controlled the game and did not allow big chances. Thiago Martins is becoming a lock-down center back and showing why he was brought in as a Designated Player. Alex Callens continues to be the rock in NYC’s defense that shuts down opposing teams and brings the fire every game.

One of the biggest plays Callens made Sunday evening was in stoppage time when he shielded off Red Bulls forward Serge Ngoma. Callens drew a foul, then pumped up the New York City supporters seated above him — their noise grew louder and louder throughout a frustrated Red Bull Arena. Plays like that one showed that New York City are finally able to see out a game professionally.

New York City had to hold on to their slim one-goal lead for 20 minutes of regulation time and what turned out to be more than six minutes of stoppage time. What followed was a masterclass in how to kill time and see a game out, all while creating big chances for a second goal. Too many times since Cushing took over, New York City have taken their foot off the gas and immediately let the other team back into the game. This game was different: This time NYCFC played the possession-based football they always do, but they were in no hurry to restart play after being fouled by New Jersey.

Taty’s moment

The game-winning goal from Castellanos in the 69th minute is without a doubt the biggest moment of the game.

The goal was unstoppable:

The game was on a knife’s edge until that Castellanos goal. New York City created better chances in the second half than what they managed in the first, sparking hope that maybe three points would be possible. But that lingering feeling of past defeats at Red Bull Arena loomed inside the heads of NYCFC supporters. However, that all changed when Santi Rodriguez played a ball over the top of Sean Nealis and Castellanos timed his run perfectly to lash the ball with the outside of his right foot past goalkeeper Carlos Coronel and into the back of the net.

Here it is again, this time from behind the goal:

While this was a massive goal for Taty and New York City, and will be remembered as such in the history of this rivalry, it summed up so much of what makes Castellanos so beloved by this fanbase.

Is this the final goal Taty scores for NYCFC? If so, he could not go out in a better way.

First, Taty provides the killer touch and finish on the field, and comes through in a big moment yet again. Second, his celebration sums up what makes him so special for this team: He ran directly across the Red Bulls supporters section and motioned to his ear, then he hugged his teammates right in front of a couple of Red Bulls bench players warming up. He has an uncanny ability to annoy the opposing team and supporters throughout the game, and to provide big moments for his team and NYCFC supporters.

His winning attitude, and willingness to irritate the opposition, make him hated around the league and absolutely beloved by NYCFC fans.

One last point: If Sunday evening was Taty’s last appearance for NYCFC, then his true final act on the field was drawing a yellow card for time wasting as he came off the field for Héber in the 88th minute.

Never change, Taty.

NYCFC are back

Just a little over a week ago, NYCFC were on a five-game winless streak — and Cushing was on the hot seat with many supporters. But in the last nine days, New York City reeled off three straight wins and picked up nine points. Two of the three wins came on the road in tough environments, one in the heat of Dallas and the other in the Derby atmosphere of Red Bull Arena.

This is about as good as a team could feel. Nothing energizes a group of supporters like a Derby win in the rivals’ backyard. In the postgame press conference, Cushing praised the supporters and knows what this win means to them.

“We wanted to win for the supporters,” Cushing said. “We feel like we gave them a little bit back today but for sure they’ve given us far more than we’ve ever gave them.”

NYCFC now sit in second place in the East and trail Philadelphia by one point with a game in hand. They also have a five-point lead on third-place Red Bulls, with a game in hand.

Next week brings up a home date at Yankee Stadium against Inter Miami. There may be a lot that goes on between this win and New York City’s game next week, but ignore that for now, and enjoy the three points NYCFC picked up last night in New Jersey.

Goals:

NYCFC, Taty Castellanos 69’

Discipline:

NYCFC, Alfredo Morales, foul, yellow card, 41’

NYCFC, Nicolas Acevedo, persistent infringement, yellow card, 71’

Red Bulls, Cristian Casseres Jr, foul, yellow card, 84’

Red Bulls, Frankie Amaya, foul, yellow card, 86’

NYCFC, Taty Castellanos, time wasting, yellow card, 88’

Red Bulls, Sean Nealis, dissent, yellow card, 90’+4

Attendance: 25,219

Referee: Chris Penso

Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Ian Anderson

Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos

VAR Referee: Kevin Stott

Assistant VAR Referee: Rene Parra