There will be a different feeling in the air for Sunday’s Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena.
Sure, the Red Bulls have storied rivalries with D.C. United and the New England Revolution, but Sunday will be different. Sunday is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of New York soccer, as the Red Bulls take on NYCFC in the first-ever New York Derby.
In soccer, a derby features two teams that play in the same city against one other. Some of the world’s greatest rivalries are derby matches. The Manchester Derby (United vs. City), the Old Firm Derby (Glasgow Celtic vs. Glasgow Rangers) and the Madrid Derby(Real vs. Atletico) are just some of the contests around the world that have a special type of feeling to them. For 90 minutes, friendships – and even family relationships – are put aside and the spotlight is on the competition on the pitch.
Whether you believe New York should be red or blue, this is a historic match that can only be considered a good thing for soccer in the metropolitan area. Rivalries help build interest, and the new one between the Red Bulls and NYCFC will help do that.
“I’m so happy that [NYCFC] is in this league with us,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said after practice Tuesday. “I think every great league has rivalries. [Man] City-Man United, Liverpool-Everton, all those big cities have those kinds of rivalries. For New York to have one, it’s going to be really good.”
Jesse Marsch has seen how an inter-city rivalry affects teams in Major League Soccer. The Red Bulls’ head coach was Chivas USA’s first head coach and talked about his experience coaching in the Los Angeles derby against the LA Galaxy.
“It’s the first thing you circle on the schedule when it comes out,” he said to the media Tuesday. “That whole week is awesome. Now, getting ready for the day of the game, you get the jitters, you get excited. And then once the whistle [blows], you’re glad it’s finally there. You pour everything into it. [Sunday’s game] will be good for the league and it will be good for years to come for the City.”
Both teams come into Sunday’s encounter in lackluster form. The Red Bulls are looking to get back to winning ways after suffering their first loss of the season last Sunday to the Revolution, while NYCFC has failed to record three points since their home-opener against New England on March 15.
As the old saying goes, form goes out the window when it comes to derby matches. NYCFC has plenty of talent that can do a lot of damage. From World Cup winner and team captain David Villa to US International Mix Diskerud, the Sky Blues have a team that can inflict damage if the Red Bulls aren’t careful.
It’s why Dax McCarty isn’t taking the expansion side lightly come Sunday.
“We know that they’ve struggled lately and they’re not in the best form right now,” the Red Bulls’ captain said. “That makes them even more dangerous.”
The Red Bulls are licking their wounds after three winless games in a row and are looking to get back to what made them successful in the early going. A win over their newest rivals would be the perfect tonic for them.
“We started the season off very well, but the past three games we haven’t been very good,” McCarty admitted. “We need to make sure that coming into this game we’re focused, we have the right mindset, the right mentality.”