– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
NEW YORK — Such is the unpredictability of rivalry games, New York City FC almost saw no reward for the slew of gilt-edged chances it created in the first half of the latest edition of the Hudson River Derby. Furthermore, it actually stared into a 1-0 deficit after just 10 minutes played.
New York’s close calls eventually turned into a couple of momentum-changing goals, however, giving it a measure of revenge in 2019 against its blood rival.
Maxi Moralez and Heber scored 10 minutes apart bridging both halves in NYCFC’s 2-1 triumph over the Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night. The comeback win comes just over a month after the Red Bulls’ pulled off a come-from-behind victory with the same exact scoreline at Red Bull Arena back on July 14.
“I thought we deserved to win the game and I’m very happy for everybody because their effort was fantastic,” said NYCFC manager Doménec Torrent.
Moralez converted a 43rd minute penalty to tie the score at 1-1 moments after he was fouled by Michael Murillo in the box. NYCFC gained the lead for good in the 53rd as Heber back-heeled a shot into the Red Bulls goal from a pass from defender Anton Tinnerholm along the goal line.
Two more New York City shots beat Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles in the first 35 minutes, only for the crossbar to come to the opponent’s rescue. In the 19th minute, forward Valentin Castellanos directed a header from inside the penalty area right onto the frame. His strike partner, Heber, fired a first-time volley from 20 yards out that cannoned off the bar in the 36th minute.
Those two near-misses only compounded on New York City’s rotten luck as the Red Bulls took a 10th-minute lead on an Alex Muyl strike past NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Coincidentally, it was Muyl who was in the middle of the firestorm surrounding the last New York rivalry game, taking a throw-in that immediately led to the game-tying goal although the sideline official initially called for a corner kick to be taken.
Despite the honors being even in the first half, New York City outshot the Red Bulls 8-3, with half of their efforts making its way on target. NYCFC also bossed the half with its two-thirds of possession time in the first 45 minutes (66.8).
“I would say we came here and had a great start and we get rewarded with a goal. Then there was a natural shift for sure,” said New York Red Bulls manager Chris Armas. “We are a little bit late with our pressing, we [got] stretched.”
Tempers flared before the final while, as Murillo tangled up with NYCFC defender Ronald Matarrita before the latter was shown a red card just before stoppage time for a head-butting motion.
New York are winners of three straight and still only las lost one game at home all season (8-1-4). More importantly, New York City pulled within a point of Eastern Conference leaders Atlanta and Philadelphia, with NYC owning at least a game in hand on both clubs.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s game, with all photos taken by A Lot of Sports Talk senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 34 pictures in total.