Vincent Bezecourt's US Open Cup breakout puts Red Bulls past rival NYCFC

HARRISON. N.J.—It might have taken Vincent Bezecourt some time to get down the tactics when he first joined the New York Red Bulls, but it took him almost none to put his team on the front foot in another 4-0 rout of New York City FC, this time in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night.

The midfielder’s first Red Bulls goal came in just the second minute, matching how long it took for his squad to take the lead a month ago against NYCFC in league play.

“I think that was my second touch on the game. Really happy,” Bezecourt said. “It’s my first pro goal with the first team so I’m really happy with that. Real happy with the performance. I think we struggle after the first goal, but we came out in the second half flying. And 4-0 again at home is perfect.”

The goal was the perfect start for the Red Bulls, who defeated NYCFC in the tournament for a second straight year. It didn’t solve everything because the visitors had a spell of possession and put the Red Bulls on the back foot for the next 30 minutes or so.

But the Red Bulls didn’t concede during that period and they dominated after halftime, with Aaron Long scoring early and Daniel Royer tacking on two late.

“Unbelievable turn and finish from Vince. It’s nice to get the early goal, but we still had to weather a storm there for about 20 or 25 minutes in the first half when they had a bit of the game and were on top of us for a bit,” said goalkeeper Ryan Meara. “But that’s what the game calls for. You kind of have to dig in sometimes and defend and then take your chances and I think we’ve been doing that.”

Long, who partnered with Hassan Ndam in central defense, also helped shut down David Villa for a second time this season. NYCFC’s captain had three total shots, with just one on target.

“From minute one we imposed our will on them again,” Long said. “It’s really good that Vincent us an early goal. That’s big-time from him. I thought there were a lot of good performances all around the field today … Everyone that stepped on the field won their battles.”

Bezecourt hasn’t had many opportunities in a crowded Red Bulls midfield, but with Kaku and Tyler Adams away on international duty, the 24-year-old seized his chance, receiving a ball from Kemar Lawrence, spinning and clinically slotting past Brad Stuver.

After only beating their rivals once last year — in the U.S. Open Cup — the Red Bulls have opened 2018 with back-to-back, convincing victories over NYCFC at Red Bull Arena.

While that’s special, what’s of greater value is moving on to the Round of 16 in a tournament the club came agonizingly close to winning a year ago.

“Playing NYCFC is always something special. We’re glad we got the win today,” Bezecourt said. “Most importantly, its a Cup tournament so we have to win every single game. We have four games to go and we have to be ready for it."