NEW YORK – Patrick Vieira said he didn’t mention New York City FC's 7-0 loss at the hands of the New York Red Bulls on May 21 as he prepared his team for Sunday's #NYderby rematch.
The coach didn’t have to.
The players have had that loss in their heads ever since and Sunday’s 2-0 victory in the Bronx served as a bit of a payback, as well as their first in the New York Derby in five tries.
“We had the bit between our teeth today,” NYCFC midfielder Frank Lampard said. “We wanted to win. They enjoyed their win here, possibly too much after the last game in the dressing room. We answered that today.”
For David Villa, it was just three points gained, just as the loss in May was three points lost.
But NYCFC’s captain is seeing a determined defensive effort in the club’s three consecutive wins, including the first-ever back-to-back clean sheet victories.
“It’s a very good day for us, obviously to give the supporters one victory in the derby,” Villa said. “I say the same when I win as when I lose, it’s three points more. This game is the same importance as the next game in New England or the last in Seattle.
“But for the supporters, it’s a little bit different. We are happy to give this present to the supporters. They deserve it.”
NYCFC made a few important tactical adjustments this time around. By playing the back four wider on restarts, they had a bit more space to operate against the Red Bulls' vaunted high press. When the Red Bulls earned set pieces, NYCFC defended well as a group, with goalkeeper Josh Saunders just needing to make three saves.
“There was big expectation and pressure on their shoulders. And they way they responded today, they really made me proud,” Vieira said. “That’s why this is a special group of players that I’m really pleased to be working with. Today, they gave their answer to [the media] and to everybody that we are strong, we are determined and there’s a really good spirit in this football club.”
Jack Harrison also stormed into contention for MLS Rookie of the Year consideration. The midfielder put his club in front on just eight minutes and perhaps equally importantly, played a sublime ball to Villa for a 66th-minute insurance goal.
“For me, an assist is just as good as a goal,” Harrison said. “Just to see his face when he scored was great as well. It’s always a happy moment. It’s not every day you get to assist David Villa.”
“You can’t challenge to win things without being good at home,” Lampard said. “The more you lose at home, the more teams come in here with confidence … [to] beat you again. We’ve put a bit of a marker down now with two wins, particularly against a good Red Bulls team here.”