WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Atlantic Cup is the oldest rivalry – and among the most bitter – in MLS history.
Ask any D.C. United or New York Red Bulls player, and they’ll tell you there’s hatred involved. They’ll likely tell you that they “circle these games on the schedule” as soon as it's released or that they understand the history involved.
On Friday night, it seemed as though New York forgot they were playing a rivalry match at all.
The Red Bulls looked flat from the onset, stumbling through both halves en route to a 2-0 drubbing at the hands of United. They simply never looked competitive. After the match, players and coaches alike held no punches in their self-criticism.
“First off, I just need to apologize to the fans for our performance,” RBNY captain Dax McCarty told the media in attendance. “It’s one of the most embarrassing performances I’ve been a part of since I’ve been at this club. There’s no excuse for stepping on the field and playing, in the first half, the way that we did. It’s tough to put into words. There’s no excuse for it.
“It’s sad, in a rivalry game, to let them off the hook like that and not be up for the challenge.”
New York were bossed in midfield during the opening phases of the match and gave up the opener 20 minutes in. Patrick Nyarko threaded a ball through a disorganized Red Bulls back line to Alvaro Saborio, who hammered it home. And 20 minutes later, Nyarko would turn finisher as he streaked past his defender and finished at the far post.
Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch had seen enough. In the 43rd minute, Jamaican international Kemar Lawrence was pulled from the match as Marsch looked to send a message.
“I felt like I could’ve made a bunch of subs before halftime. 20th, 30th minute, we’re so flat,” Marsch told MLSsoccer.
“I have to take a big load of responsibility here. We came into a rivalry game, one that we knew that would require a team that would be in all ways up for the competition, and for the night, and we came up zero for eleven on that. So that, you have to look at me. For whatever reason, maybe I didn’t have enough urgency in preparation for this, maybe I didn’t make it clear to them exactly what this was gonna require.”
New York have little time to reflect on the loss. They’re facing a mid-week match-up against the Fire (Wednesday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Friday's performance, though, will be tough to get over.
“It’s tough to look into the mirror after this game,” said McCarty. “It’s an embarrassment. It really is.”