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NYCFC goalless, winless in dull Hudson River Derby draw

The first-ever 0-0 derby draw was a snooze of a match befitting two struggling clubs outside the playoff places.

A goalless group |

The final Hudson River Derby of 2023 was historic, but not for reasons either side will celebrate. 

The 27th meeting between New York City FC and their cross-river Red Bull rivals was the derby’s first-ever goalless draw, a forgettable snooze of a match befitting two clubs that are sleepwalking their ways to the end of failed, playoff-free seasons. 

NYCFC didn’t register a win over Red Bull this season, and didn’t score a goal in any of their three deeply disappointing big-game performances against the team from Harrison, New Jersey. It’s the third time the Blue side has gone winless against its Red rivals in a calendar year—2015, 2021, and now 2023.

One of those seasons ended with NYCFC’s greatest triumph to date, while the other two stand out as the worst years in New York City’s limited MLS history. 2015 and 2023 have developed a number of unpleasant similarities, as in both seasons, NYCFC endured very lengthy winless streaks and earned just 31 points from their first 29 matches.

A win could have helped NYCFC keep a flicker of playoff hope alive. Instead, they barely threatened the Red Bulls, taking over 80 minutes to register a shot on target, and producing just two all game in another fruitless attacking display.

Game Stats
NYCFC: 9 shots, 2 shots on target, 58.1% possession, 388 passes, 68.8% pass accuracy, 13 fouls

Red Bulls: 11 shots, 3 shots on target, 41.9% possession, 278 passes, 61.9% pass accuracy, 13 fouls

Another concerning, costly injury

There was very little worth discussing from the 90 minutes of game action, but the ankle injury that forced Keaton Parks off the pitch in the 37th minute was another major blow for NYCFC’s banged-up midfield to overcome.

Parks went up for a 33rd-minute header and came down in a tangle with Red Bull defender Andrés Reyes, badly twisting his left ankle in the Yankee Soccer Stadium grass and immediately writhing around in serious pain.

Keaton walked off slowly and gingerly under his own power, but couldn’t continue playing and would need a ride from a cart to get back to the dressing room, and was later seen leaving the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot.

The last NYCFC match prior to this tedious 0-0 derby draw saw Maxi Moralez tear his ACL and damage his meniscus, so NYCFC face the prospect of losing key central midfielders to injury in a span of two matches.

The midfield badly missed Parks and his ability to grab control of possession and maintain it—he’s attempted the most passes on the team in 2023 and has completed 87.8% of them, and leads NYCFC in completed passes into the final attacking third, and in completed progressive passes.

Without him, Nick Cushing turned to a midfield of James Sands, Andrés Perea, and Alfredo Morales, and that trio of defensive midfielders struggled to push play upfield, often unable to string passes together with attackers like Santi Rodríguez or Mounsef Bakrar.

All that’s left to do is hope Keaton’s injury isn’t a severe one, but given how little has gone right for NYCFC this season, it might just be the latest in a string of costly setbacks that have hampered the squad in 2023.

NYCFC 0 – 0 New Jersey Red Bulls: Rate the players

Iceman delivers in goal

The best scoring chance either team had fell to Bronx native and noted NYCFC killer Omir Fernandez of the Red Bulls in the 74th minute. Red Bull defender Kyle Duncan danced into the New York City 18-yard-box and played a cross into the path of an unmarked Fernandez, who redirected a first-time effort on goal.

Enter Matt Freese, who showed off his quick reflexes to react quickly enough to push Fernandez’s shot wide of goal and preserve the 0-0. This was the one must-save chance either team created, and the NYCFC starting ‘keeper du jour was up to the challenge.

Much has been written on this website and in the NYCFC discourse-sphere about this season-long unanswered question: Who is the starting NYCFC goalkeeper?

Right now, it looks like the Iceman has cometh. Freese has been mostly solid all season, but has made some key highlight-reel saves in each of his recent stretch of three straight starts.

Luis Barraza has gotten more chances than Freese this season, but he’s failed to take advantage of them, not able to put in the consistent performances necessary to realistically end the ongoing starting ‘keeper competition.

With the 2023 season comfortably in the “better luck next year” zone, Freese might be facing his best chance to stake his claim to the title of NYCFC’s No 1.

His save on Fernandez got NYCFC one point, which isn’t enough to turn the team’s season around, but was one more point than they might have gotten had Freese been sitting on the bench.

3 reasons why Matt Freese should be NYCFC’s starting goalkeeper

Fan trophy makes debut

The match stunk, and the 2023 versions of both NYCFC and the Red Bulls are the opposite of memorable and exciting. One silver lining, though, is at least there’s now a fancy new fan-created Hudson River Derby trophy to potentially add some spice back to a rivalry that feels like it’s on life support.

The Red Bulls and their fans get to claim it this season, a rare treat for a moribund franchise that hasn’t won any actual competitive trophies in nearly 30 seasons of existence.

The trophy looks here to stay, as NYCFC supporters group The Third Rail even “introduced” it with a tifo out in the Yankee Soccer Stadium bleachers right before kickoff. The trophy got a prominent spot pitchside during the match and was even featured on the AppleTV broadcast.

There were very few memorable moments of on-field action across all three Hudson River Derby matches played in 2023, and that number is basically zero on the NYCFC side of the equation.

At the very least, this Tri-State Area MLS soccer season to forget produced a fun new piece of hardware that looks set to appear at future derby matches.


  • Nope


  • NYCFC: Matías Pellegrini, foul, yellow card, 42′
  • Red Bulls: Tom Barlow, foul, yellow card, 48′
  • NYCFC: Alfredo Morales, foul, yellow card, 63′
  • Red Bulls: Hassan Ndam, foul, yellow card, 69′
  • NYCFC: James Sands, foul, yellow card, 90’+2′
  • Red Bulls: Cameron Harper, time wasting, yellow card, 90’+7′

Attendance: 29,657


  • Referee: Joe Dickerson
  • Assistant Referees: Jose Da Silva, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
  • Fourth official: Filip Dujic
  • VAR: Drew Fischer
  • Ast. VAR: Fabio Tovar