For NYCFC, tactics are spot on in morale-boosting derby win over Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. – New York City FC had the perfect game plan and tactics in their 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon, and looked like an entirely different squad from the side that lost to the Red Bulls 10 days earlier in the U.S. Open Cup.

Unlike that meeting, where NYCFC tried to funnel things centrally through Maxi Moralez, NYCFC went wide and over the top repeatedly to find success in their first-ever win at Red Bull Arena.

“We are dangerous when we have the ball and compact when we don’t have the ball,” NYCFC forward and captain David Villa said. “Finally the three points is so good for us, for the Hudson Derby, for our fans and of course it is one of our rivals in fighting for the playoffs.”

Villa didn’t score himself, but his team’s approach led to Jack Harrison’s sublime chip in the first half and Ben Sweat’s looping header midway through the second.

Those goals combined with a stifling defense and the hard work of Alexander Ring and Yangel Herrera deep in the midfield frustrated a disjointed Red Bulls side.

“We forced them to play long,” Vieira said. “We were present…and I think that's one of the reasons as well we managed to win the game is we matched the desire and competitiveness.”

If it weren’t for a couple of key first-half stops from Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles in the first half, including an acrobatic, 42nd-minute denial of Herrera, the score could have been much worse. NYCFC held just a shade over 40% of possesson but were highly effective with it, registering six shots on goal and limiting their opponent to just one.

The Red Bulls held plenty of possession but were static on and off the ball, lacking movement and the final pass to spring Bradley Wright-Phillips.

“It's important for us to take parts of the game and now convert that into real chances and into real moments in the attacking part of the field,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “And possession doesn't mean anything unless you're creating something. So we don't value possession, but the game wasn't so lopsided. It was a matter of them making a couple more plays than we were able to make on the day.”

Despite NYCFC’s first win at Red Bull Arena and the measure of revenge from that tough Open Cup loss, Vieira kept a level head about the result. He was pleased with the play of his younger players and the successful shift in tactics but he said that the three points are only that.

“Victory is not more sweeter than the last win in Seattle,” Vieira insisted. “I'm really satisfied because of course we managed to win the game, we took the three points and I think we played really well. We created a few chances, we scored, and it was a really good team performance.”