Can Felipe Get Underneath NYCFC’s Skin Again?

There is a special kind of hate that New York City F.C. players have for Felipe Martins.

In turn, the New York Red Bulls‘ midfielder seems to relish the fact that he’s able to play mind games with his club’s rivals.

Don’t get it twisted — Martins is a pit bull on the field, a fact that is seemingly multiplied when the uniform on the other side of the pitch is powder blue. The 26-year-old Martins, Brazilian-born and with extensive experience in Europe before coming to MLS, gets pumped up for rivalry matches in a special way.

This Friday’s match at Red Bull Arena against NYCFC is no different, he says, even if it is the fourth time in 10 weeks that these two rivals will have played each other in all competitions.

“Of course when you play New York City, it is a good match to play. We want to win because we’re at home. But at this point in the season, every match counts and won’t be different from other games,” Martins said Monday following training. “I just think we need to show up, take care of business, [get] three points and go home.”

The Red Bulls have dropped both regular season meetings between these two sides, but did knock City out of the U.S. Open Cup earlier this year.

[Listen: Red Bulls Insider Podcast With Felipe]

Martins has played in all 10 Hudson River Derbies to date, a series still historically controlled by the Red Bulls, but has tipped in the direction of City this year. While formations, head coaches and players have changed a bit in what is now the third year of the ‘Hudson Derby,’ one of the constants remains Martins and his presence on the pitch.

The other constant is the hatred that NYCFC seems to feel for Martins in a very special way.

Martins is an agitator, something he glows over when asked about it. He loves to play physically and he delights in playing with opponents (and this one in particular), emotionally and mentally. He’s the type of player that is loved by his teammates, but despised by the other side.

A master of trash talk and irritation who backs up this mental side of the game with a deft pass or a skillful touch into space.

Or a swift tackle when need be.

All of which leaves Martins as the one singular player in the Red Bulls’ Starting XI who likely isn’t getting a holiday card from anyone associated with the NYCFC organization. And Martins is fine with that.

[Read More Red Bulls Insider From Kristian Dyer]

He wouldn’t have it any other way. He wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I love it, I love it. If they hate me, it’s because of something positive I bring [against] them. If they love me? For me it doesn’t matter what they think, actually,” Martins said.

“On the field, I’m not here to make friends with them, I’m not here to be friends with anybody. I just play for my club, that’s Red Bulls. I look for the three points on Friday.”

QUICK NOTES

  • Recently signed winger Muhamed Keita, yet to debut for the Red Bulls, will likely be on the bench for Friday night’s match against NYCFC. Head coach Jesse Marsch said that with the Red Bulls on the road, Keita stayed behind and focused on conditioning last week.
  • Daniel Royer is running on the AlterG treadmill at “80 percent” of his body weight, per Marsch. The Austrian midfielder is nearing a return from his knee injury a couple weeks ago, but likely won’t be training with the first team anytime soon.
  • Aurélien Collin had an MRI on Tuesday and is receiving treatment for plantar fasciitis. Marsch is hopeful Collin can begin training on Wednesday, noting that the center back might benefit from joining the USL team for a match this weekend.