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Leagues Cup Round of 32: NYCFC vs Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena

Do you think NYCFC will pull off an upset win at Red Bull Arena? Us neither.

Here we are in the knockout stage of Leagues Cup, a do-or-die game for New York City FC when they face the Red Bulls in New Jersey at (the admittedly nice) Red Bull Arena: Here is your NYCFC vs Red Bulls Game Day Hub.

Watching the game in person? You’ll want to read our 5 Red Bull Arena hacks before you go.

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Game Day Essentials
  • Leagues Cup Round of 32: NYCFC vs New Jersey Red Bulls
  • Date and Time: Thursday, August 3, 8 pm ET
  • Venue: Red Bull Arena
  • Bruce Arena Forecast: A pleasant and breezy summer night, 77˚F/25˚C
  • Watch: Apple TV (free)
  • Broadcast Team: Kevin Egan and Miguel Gallardo (Apple TV)
  • Listen: English and Spanish broadcasts on NYCFC Radio
  • Officiating Crew: Daniel Quintero Huittrón (referee)
5 Red Bull Arena hacks

NYCFC vs Red Bulls

It’s a midweek double-scoop of Leagues Cup soccer and a Hudson River Derby.

NYCFC are flying high after dismantling Toronto FC 5-0 in their biggest win in over one year — and their first game with a proper striker in over one year. Red Bulls are maybe flying a little higher after a Hollywood end to their game against Atlético San Luis, when goalkeeper Carlos Coronel saved a penalty in stoppage time then striker Dante Vanzeir scored the winning goal one minute later.

Will NYCFC consider this game a high-stakes friendly? The team didn’t just add a striker in the summer transfer window, they also brought in a winger, a defensive midfielder, and a central defender (who has yet to play because of visa issues). There are a lot of new faces to integrate into this team.

Or will they go for it? NYCFC looked sharp in many of the disappointing results they posted in recent months, like they were one or two players away from winning. Now they seem to have those one or two players.

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NYCFC vs Red Bulls H2H















It ain’t even close: The Red Bulls have dominated the head-to-head between the two teams since the beginning of time. Wins, goal differential — New Jersey pwn NYCFC like no other team. NYCFC has only beaten the Red Bulls twice at Red Bull Arena in 15 meetings, with the Red Bulls winning 11 of the New Jersey-based derbies, and with two matches ending as draws.

Many of those wins have been clean sheets, 10 in all. In fact, there are a healthy number of clean sheets on both sides, with NYCFC notching five of their own. Fully, 15 of the 25 matches between these two clubs were shutouts.

NYCFC vs Red Bulls Clean Sheets

Clean Sheets



Red Bulls




The win-or-go-home match history between the two teams is especially unkind to NYCFC, as the Red Bulls have won all three previous knockout derbies by a combined aggregate score of 8-0. Yes, NYCFC have never even scored a goal against the Red Bulls in any of their must-win meetings, with all three losses coming in US Open Cup action at Red Bull Arena.

NYCFC have lost all five of the must-win local derbies they’ve played in the club’s history, all taking place in the Open Cup, with two losses to the New York Cosmos and three to the Red Bulls. Will the Leagues Cup Round of 32 bring with it a first-ever NYCFC derby win in an elimination game?

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  • Player Availability: James Sands missed the group stage win over Toronto FC with a concussion, but was pictured participating in training this week. Might he return for this high-stakes derby?
  • Mounsef Bakrar got his first NYCFC start and scored his first goal with the club in the win over Toronto. It stands to reason he’ll be back in there for his first Hudson River Derby, but will any of the other new additions to NYCFC’s roster be involved?
  • What formation will Nick Cushing choose for what is usually a nervy, tight, hard-fought road derby? Cushing went with a four-man defensive line in the most recent win over TFC, but had been using three center backs with regularity in the matches prior to Toronto. The recovery of Thiago Martins from his knee injury has led Cushing back to the veteran center back pairing of Martins and Maxime Chanot, which has pushed Tayvon Gray over to right back and sent Justin Haak back to the substitutes bench.
  • NYCFC have not won two straight matches since recording back-to-back wins over Nashville SC and FC Dallas at Citi Field back in mid-April. That two-match stretch was also the last time NYCFC scored more than one goal in successive matches. In total the team still have just two wins in their last 18 matches played in all competitions.
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New Jersey

  • Player Availability: Cory Burke is questionable with a hip injury, while four players have been ruled out: Lewis Morgan, Dylan Nealis, Serge Ngoma, and Steven Sserwadda.
  • The Red Bulls made two additions to their roster during the just-closed MLS Secondary Transfer Window. They signed the younger brother of Everton defender Yerry Mina, right back Juan José Mina, and also are reportedly loaning in Watford attacker Jorge Cabezas Hurtado.
  • Omir Fernández, the Bronx-born Red Bull midfielder, loves himself a goal against NYCFC. He scored the decisive goal in the most recent Hudson River Derby back in May, scored in the ugly 3-0 Red Bulls win over NYCFC in the 2022 US Open Cup quarterfinals, and also scored the winner the last time the Red Bulls beat NYCFC at Yankee Stadium back in September 2021. He may be from the Bronx but he’s not been kind to the team that (partially, temporarily) calls the Bronx home.
  • The new manager bounce hasn’t magically fixed all that ails the Red Bulls. Since taking over as head coach on May 9, Troy Lesesne’s team has gone 7 W-4 D-5 L in all competitions, good for 1.31 points per match played. Gerhard Struber, who this week managed to go from being fired by the Red Bulls to “earning” the job of head coach at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, earned 1.40 points per match from his 87 matches at the helm of the New Jersey squad.
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