For one member of the New York Red Bulls, the passion and fight of Saturday’s ‘Hudson River Derby’ will be nothing new. For a more recent addition to the Red Bulls, he only knows about this rivalry through talk among the players and staff.
Alex Muyl knows a thing or two about being a New Yorker. The lifelong resident of the five boroughs is now a rising star of the Red Bulls. Which is why he knows that this Saturday’s ‘Hudson Derby’ has the chance to be something special.
Muyl had a breakout performance in last year’s first meeting between the Red Bulls and New York City F.C., a game that his side won 7-0 and was dubbed by fans as the ‘Red Wedding,’ an ode to the famous scene in “Game of Thrones.” All told, the rivalry has tipped the way of the Red Bulls, who are 5-1 in league play in the series and won last week’s meeting in the US Open Cup.
So while it hasn’t been terribly competitive on the field, at least statistically speaking, players like Muyl — who have seen this rivalry and live in the heart of New York — know that Saturday’s battle at Red Bull Arena will be big. There have been plenty of fireworks between these two sides despite the small sample size.
“I think for us, it is our crosstown rival; it’s guys we really don’t get along with,” Muyl said. “Every time we play, there’s some heat in the game, something extra in it,”
“I think that also the way the standings are right now, it means something more than ever. Because of where we are, we need points.”
Muyl came up through the Red Bulls Academy system, eventually parlaying this experience into time with the United States youth national team and then a scholarship to Georgetown. Now in his second year with the Red Bulls, he is a regular and a frequent starter for head coach Jesse Marsch.
The rivalry reaches off the field and to the home front where Muyl’s friends are already catching the piqued interest in this match.
“Being in the city, you see a lot of buildup to the match,” Muyl said. “People talking about it, and all my friends want tickets to the game, so it makes it hard who to choose who gets to go.”
“For me, it hits extra close to home. For everyone here, it’s a very intense week of preparation and the weekend is under the microscope.”
There are those like Bradley Carnell who will truly experience this rivalry match for the first time.
Hired a couple of weeks into the season, Carnell is a Red Bulls assistant coach with no prior experience in MLS. A former South African international, Carnell recalls rivalry matches in Germany where he played professionally and flares being fired at the players on the field.
Carnell, whose family just arrived to join him in the United States this week, said that there is a lot of buzz from the players about the match, but he cautions them, “not to overexaggerate, not to divert your attention in any way.”
“I believe this match is a little bit different, obviously coming off the win against them in the Open Cup,” Carnell said. “I think there’s a lot at stake, on both sides. Listen, there are derbies and there are derbies, and I think this ranks among the big ones.”