|Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) watches the Red Bulls' first goal of the game go in. USA Today Sports.|
The Red Bulls routed New York City Football Club, 4-0, in the first installment of the Hudson River Derby on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena.
It's no exaggeration to say the Red Bulls wasted no time getting one on the board on this one, as Kaku slammed home a rebound from a Bradley Wright-Phillips shot in the second minute of the match.
Just two minutes later, the Red bulls struck again, as Florian Valot came down the right side and fired a shot off an NYCFC defender that went straight up and over NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson to make it 2-0.
After having a big chance in the 32nd minute that was saved by Johnson, Wright-Phillips slipped past three NYCFC defenders and headed in a long pass from Kaku to make it 3-0 Red Bulls in the 35th minute.
That was the cap on an opening half that was all Red Bulls, as they poured in nine shots, five of which were on target, two off target, and two blocked shots.
The Red Bulls defense was on point, as they didn't give NYCFC an inch or let them set up at all in the offensive zone.
NYCFC had just three shots in the first half, just one on target, one off target, and one blocked.
At the start of the second half, NYCFC looked to switch things up, using two of their three substitutions, sending in Ebenezer Ofori and Maxime Chanot to try and get something started.
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira was asked about the move after the game, and said unequivocally, "If I had the chance to change all the ten players on the field, I was going to do it at half time. I wasn't really happy with every single player on the field, so I just made these changes and try to change the tactical side of the game and went three at the back. But it didn't work."
It did work initially at the start of the second half, as NYCFC got their first quality chance of the afternoon in the 48th minute.
Ben Sweat came in alone from the left side and Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles came out to kick it away. The ball then went to David Villa, who got it to Jesus Medina, who shot it just over the crossbar.
That was the only chance created by Villa, NYCFC's main offensive threat, in this one, and he was pulled in the 66th minute.
The Red Bulls kept getting big chances as the second half wore on.
Valot shot one off the crossbar in the 79th minute, but the Red Bulls kept it in NYCFC's zone, and Tyler Adams and Valot set up Derrick Etienne to blast one home and make it 4-0.
This was the first win in MLS play for the Red Bulls against NYCFC since 2016, and it was NYCFC's worst loss since July 2017 against Toronto.
Vieira said of NYCFC's lack of effort, "Yeah, I think -- and this is the reason why I'm quite frustrated. I'm really frustrated about the competitiveness, about the desire we had on the field. You know, I'm prepared to accept that we can lose games, but the way we lost today with the lack of conviction, the lack of competitiveness is something that I can't accept...
"This is something I will have to reflect on. When you play the Derby you know that you will have to compete. We know the way that they are playing, and it will be important for myself, but overall for the players, as well, to reflect on that because if we want to bounce back; if we want to keep doing well in this league, evident to change you the attitude because the attitude wasn't good tonight."
When asked if the questionable effort was a failure of veteran leadership, Vieira said, "I don't want to put fingers on one player or two players or just the leadership of the team. I think it's the team overall. That's what I said early on: If I could change the ten players on the field, I was doing it because I was unhappy with the way of all of them, the way they performed. But I think we have to reflect on our performance because at that level, it is unacceptable to go on the field and the opposite team wanted it more than us."
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of their good start, "Yeah, so obviously a really, really good start. And then, you know, when you get a 2-0 lead -- even when you get a 1-0 lead, the easy thing to do is sit back and take pressure and now the other team has nothing to lose so they go after it.
"But our guys were on top of the game. The whole first half was very good. So you know, and then obviously getting the goal at the end of the half was good and then not making it 3-1 right at the end, but the part that was the best is that the concentration to still stick to the game plan and see out the game the way we wanted to was great.
"And then, yeah, Kaku, I think -- I've been trying to say that he's growing every day, and he's determined every day to figure out how to fit in better and better and how to integrate and how to make sure that he honors this team with his progress and performance and commitment and mentality, and so he's been a lot of fun to have here. He's been a lot of fun to have here.
"Again, I keep saying this about him, but he's only getting better. He's obviously adjusting quite well, and you know, he'll continue to be very important for us."
The Red Bulls improved to 5-3-0, 15 points on the season, in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Because of their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League, they have a game or two in hand on the rest of the conference.
NYCFC suffered just their second loss of the season to drop to 6-2-2, 20 points, on the season. They dropped into second place behind Atlanta United, who improved to 7-1-1, 22 points, with a 2-1 win over Chicago.
The Red Bulls held NYCFC to just eight shots for the entire game, with only one on target, six off target, and one blocked.
Marsch said of the Red Bulls' stifling defense, "Yeah, we designed a specific tactical pressuring scheme to try to limit those two guys. That being said, you know, with Morales, he's very nifty and he's very clever at finding little pockets.
"So it was sometimes going to be Tyler around him, but it was also going to require whoever was in the vicinity to be aware of where he was and to close down his space. And then I think you saw a tough day for David Villa based on the performances of Tim Parker and Aaron Long.
"So you know, if we can continue to get really good defensive performances and continue to tactically be on top of games, then the potential for this team is good.
"Now, second half, they make some adjustments; it forces us to make some adjustments. We weren't quite as clear on some of our pressing and some of the tactical responsibility, so then the game started to slip a little bit more, but it's natural at 3-0, they are going to throw a lot at you. And then in there, I feel like we could manage possession better, so when we do turn them over, if we can be a bit cleaner on the ball and a little bit sharper, then we could have I think taken the game more and created more chances.
"All that being said, those are picky things, right. Overall, the mentality of the group, the commitment to go after the game, the fearlessness at which our team played in a big game against a really good team, at this point in the season says a lot about who we are, so proud of our guys."
|The Red Bulls and NYCFC entered the pitch surrounded by fireworks. Photo by Jason Schott.|