After slow start, New York Red Bulls thrilled with dominating second half in convincing derby triumph

NEW YORK – The Empire State Building may be blue, but after their second derby win, the Red Bulls have proved that New York is red.

Playing head-to-head for the first time at Yankee Stadium, the two New York clubs put on a show for the 48,047 in attendance as the Red Bulls fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to top NYCFC, 3-1.

The box score may imply that the match was a tale of two halves, but in truth, the Red Bulls believed they were in control for the better part of 60 minutes. After a sleepy start that saw NYCFC’s Thomas McNamara put the home side in front just six minutes into the match, the Red Bulls began to grow in confidence.

“The first half, we started really slow,” midfielder Sacha Kljestan said. “They came in with a lot of energy and we weren’t prepared. But after 15 or 20 minutes, we had the rest of the game. We were creating chances and, in the end, we had a lot of confidence that we would win the game.”

The Red Bulls steadfastly attacked the right side of the NYCFC defense through the likes of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kemar Lawrence, but the end product was not there early on.

“We just weren’t getting in the right areas,” Wright-Phillips said. “There were some good crosses, but me, [Anatole] Abang and Mike [Grella] weren’t getting on the end of them. [In the second half,] we put more effort into and it showed.”

Heading into the locker room, it was clear that the Red Bulls were the side in the ascendancy, and it didn’t take long for the visitors to equalize the affair in the second half.

“Obviously it was not ideal to go down early,” captain Dax McCarty said. “But I thought once the game went on we started to settle down, started to play better.

“It was a great second half; some of the best we’ve played all season. Honestly we scored three, but it probably could have been five. They were gassed, we had energy, we had life. Great performance in the second half and I’m just happy we got a win for our fans.”

The slow start was far from ideal, but not entirely unexpected according to New York head coach Jesse Marsch. With the emotion surrounding this derby match, the high-intensity start was anticipated and dealt with accordingly.

“The message before the game was that it may take a while to settle down and it might be crazy early on,” Marsch said. “We knew there was going to be a lot of emotion and there’s not much space on the field. The message to the team was that it might not settle down until the second half, but I think it probably settled down around the 25th minute.”

Scoring three goals for the first time this season, the Red Bulls seemed to be firing on all cylinders in a second half that saw the majority of play down in the NYCFC end of the pitch. Leading into yet another derby match on Wednesday night in US Open Cup play against the New York Cosmos, the win feels like more than just another three points.

“More than anything it was fun,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “Not only to come to their place and dominate they way that we did in the second half, but realistically they only had the game for about 15 minutes. They came out exactly how Jesse said that they would, with emotion.

“They were dangerous on set pieces and they were able to create some havoc. But once we adjusted and got into the game, I think our quality came out.”