A rivalry this is not – a rivalry has heart and only one team on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium showed up with a pulse.
The New York Red Bulls are the kings of New York, but there is more to their emphatic win Saturday over a supposed rival than just a lopsided scoreline.
Saturday’s ‘Hudson Derby,’ a 7-0 win by the Red Bulls over New York City FC, showed that for City, there is still plenty of work to be done in what is their second year in MLS. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the MLS upstarts will still face a learning curve with each passing year as the league gets better and life for expansion teams will grow increasingly more difficult.
And for the Red Bulls, it showed that a discouraging start to the year was just a mirage and that this squad is capable of again making the playoffs and a push for MLS Cup.
What was shocking is that the home team this past weekend showed such little fight and heart in what is a match that supposedly means more to the little brother in this rivalry right now. Except that big brother put on an epic display before a national television audience.
After being swept in last year’s first series of meetings between these two sides, New York City FC spent the offseason trying to get better. There was the signing of Patrick Vieira, a big name head coach who came with plenty of hype and promise. The squad was re-tooled and more balance was brought in, even though the high-priced salaries of David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard remained influential pieces of the squad.
This should have been the match to make a statement, but City couldn’t muster anything. They came out flat despite resting a good chunk of their starters for the midweek 1-1 result at Toronto FC, while the Red Bulls ran out close to their Starting XI for ahome win over the Chicago Fire. But it was the Red Bulls who came out at Yankee Stadium swinging, even though they were the dominant team of the rivalry last year.
Perhaps most discouraging for the high-priced en vogue City is that they went into the locker room at halftime down 3-0 and actually came out for the second half with less energy and passion. That is a failing on the part of Vieira to not have his team makes necessary adjustments, but it also falls on the likes of Pirlo and Villa and even to an extent on Lampard to rally their teammates.
Instead, they shuffled their way through to conceding four more goals.
A rivalry, a derby as it is called in soccer parlance, is about passion and about fight. So many times it is the squad that shows up willing to get bloody and muddy that pulls out the result, no matter the talent discrepancy. But this isn’t a rivalry yet, not the way that FC showed up on Saturday and put up a fight for roughly three minutes.
For Red Bulls it was all about the fight and not about the big names or the elitist attitude. And until that changes at Yankee Stadium, it will be those boys who play in Jersey who will continue to sit on the throne.