Luis Robles makes a save vs. NYCFC
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Robles: NY Derby with huge implications is "great for the league"

HANOVER, N.J. – It is a new era for the New York Derby, one that sees a shift not in terms of power, but rather of focus ahead of the third and final regular season meeting between New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls Wednesday (7 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info) at Yankee Stadium.

A rivalry built originally on geographical banter and the rise of the noisy neighbors in the then-upstart NYCFC, the derby is now just as important for the on-the-field ramifications as it is for all the buzz that surrounds these two teams when they meet. The Red Bulls sit in second place in the Eastern Conference on 48 points, one place and one point ahead of NYCFC in the standings.

This match, which kicks off Heineken Rivalry Week, might well have shockwaves that resonate for months down the road. Wednesday’s match is more than bragging or territorial rights: Supporters' Shield ramifications as well as seeding for the playoffs are at play.

“I think it’s not only great for the rivalry, but it’s great for the league when you see that each game not only has implications on territory, status within that rivalry, but also playoff seeding, Supporters' Shield and they’ve had a good year; we’ve had a good year,” Red Bulls goalkeeper and captain Luis Robles said on Tuesday following training.

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“We know it’s a rubber match. But with that being said, beyond the rivalry, we know these games have huge meaning when it comes to the Supporters' Shield.”

NYCFC, who beat the Red Bulls 1-0 at Yankee Stadium in the last derby meeting on July 8, are limping into this match, likely down three starters to injury and suspension.

They have just one win in their last four matches after arguably having the best month of July in the league.

The Red Bulls come in relatively hot, 5-1-1 since their loss at NYCFC. City has seen a dip in form in recent weeks under Dome Torrent, who replaced Patrick Vieira as the team’s coach midseason.

Red Bulls coach Chris Armas expects Wednesday night’s host to approach the match in similar fashion to their meeting in July. In that match, NYCFC went very direct and forced the Red Bulls to be narrow in the final third, a frustrating match for the club from New Jersey.

“You see how they use their outside backs a bit, some of the interior play the way you see Man City do it sometimes. At times, a little less possession that I have seen against us. They completely changed their gameplan going to 25 percent or whatever it was of long balls instead of their average of 11 or 12 [percent],” Armas said. “They always have a plan so with Patrick, you know it seemed like more of a calculated pattern play and positional play and even how they used their wide guys, are they getting width from the wingers or outside backs, or is it even a little bit of both. So there is a lot going on with Domenec, so yeah, it will be fun to see how it plays out.”

The Red Bulls, who managed four points from their swing through Chicago and Vancouver, are also keenly aware that the home side on Wednesday night are a league-best 10-0-2 at home this year.

And while the Red Bulls are second to Atlanta United with six road wins this year, they are anticipating yet another derby battle, this time with much more on the line than just banter and bragging rights.

“I think that they’ve done absolutely amazing at home. That’s their strength this year, more than anything so now that they’re playing us, of course, they’re going to be on for it,” Armas said. “It’s just one of those games that we have to go in there, we can’t be naïve about it so you know go out there, get an early goal, try to press them the way that we play and be combative about the whole game, so we’re going there for nothing less than three points.”