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New York City FC could finally be on the right track to recovery and might just nab a playoff qualification spot at the end of the regular league season. With just one win in 15 MLS games, the 2021 MLS champions entered the mid-season break. Their journey in the 2023 Leagues Cup was ended by arch-rivals and their next opponents – New York Red Bulls.
The league campaign resumed with two back-to-back losses against Minnesota United and FC Cincinnati. However, New York City FC are unbeaten in their last two games. They won against CF Montreal and split the points with the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend.
New York Red Bulls are one point behind their neighbors and five points away from the last playoff qualification spot. However, the club has an extra game in hand. After ending New York City FC’s journey in the Leagues Cup, New York Red Bull’s voyage came to an end in the very next round against Philadelphia Union.
The team resumed the MLS season with a narrow win against DC United. Things have gone downhill since that positive result. In the last three matches, the New York Red Bulls have dropped all available points, scored just one goal, and conceded seven.
Like any other derby, this match can go either way. Recent form goes out the window in such high-octane clashes. The hosts will have an advantage with their supporters rallying behind their team and are favorites to take all three points from this fixture.
This will be the 27th Hudson River Derby across all competitions. New York Red Bulls have dominated this rivalry, winning 15 derbies. New York City FC have won eight times and only three of these exhilarating encounters have ended in draws.
This season, the New York Red Bulls have upset their neighbors on two occasions. The first came in the MLS in May. Omir Fernandez scored in the 76th minute to give his side a narrow but crucial win.
The second victory came last month in the Leagues Cup when Fernandez struck again, this time from the spot, in the 31st minute to eliminate New York City FC from the tournament. However, both games were played at the Red Bull Arena.
The last time these two clubs met at the Yankee Stadium, New York City FC clinched a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Alexander Callens and Santiago Rodriguez.
After dropping a plethora of winnable points this season, New York City FC are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference and 25th in the Supporters Shield table. The major downfall of the club has come as a shock to many after the team finished third in the Eastern Conference.
Despite dropping points that should have been added to their tally, the hopes of playoff qualification this season are still alive for the hosts. The club is dangling outside the qualification zone but are still within striking distance.
Since other clubs ranked near New York City FC have also faltered on multiple occasions, no side has pulled clear in the race, leaving the hosts just four points off ninth place. That spot is now the primary target of the 2021 MLS champions.
New York Red Bulls dominate the overall head-to-head record in the Hudson River Derby. However, New York City FC have kept their pride at home. Overall, across all competitions, New York City FC have won just eight times.
Six of those eight wins have come at home. In ten home derbies, New York City FC have only lost three. Only one of those losses is recent (2021) with two coming in the 2015 and 2016 MLS seasons.
Maxi Moralez left New York City FC at the end of last year to join Argentine side Racing Club. His stint lasted just eight months before he returned to New York City FC in August. Since his return, Moralez has been a pivotal part of the team.
However, the 36-year-old will miss the Hudson River Derby after suffering an ACL injury in the last match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Moralez has scored three goals against New York Red Bulls in his career and will be a big miss for the hosts.
After finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference last season, expectations were high from the New York Red Bulls this season. However, just like their rivals, the Bulls have tripped on multiple occasions.
The visitors are coming into this derby riding on the back of a three-game losing streak. Interestingly, this is their longest winless streak in a single MLS season since 2019.
During that dismal run, the New York Red Bulls lost against New York City FC, Colorado Rapids, and Seattle Sounders. The last time the Bulls lost four MLS games in a row was in the 2016 MLS season.
The New York Red Bulls have picked up 29 points from 27 games this season so far. Out of that total points tally, 22 points have come at home in 14 games and only seven points were secured in 13 away games.
In those 13 games, New York Red Bulls have lost eight, drawn four, and won just one game. Their solitary away victory of the season came against a weak Inter Miami side before they signed Lionel Messi.
New York City FC will be without their talisman Moralez in this derby, but New York Red Bulls will certainly deploy Omir Fernandez down the right flank. The winger has scored four goals and nabbed three assists this season.
Additionally, he has scored four goals in seven Hudson River Derby appearances. Two of those games came in the previous two derbies this season. Both goals turned out to be the decisive ones and Fernandez will be hoping to clinch another one on Saturday.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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