King of New York (NYCFC-New York Red Bulls Recap, 08.06.17)

Robert Cole/ALOST
Bradley Wright-Phillips did his best to quiet the NYCFC crowd with two goals for the Red Bulls, his ninth and 10th all-time against the Hudson River Derby rivals. (Robert Cole/ALOST)
Bradley Wright-Phillips did his best to quiet the NYCFC crowd with two goals for the Red Bulls today, his ninth and 10th all-time against the Hudson River Derby rivals in eight league matches. (Robert Cole/ALOST)


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


NEW YORK — As much as this following thought might come from the hyperbole department, one could easily have imagined what it was like to be at Yankee Stadium on the night Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series by watching the performance of New York City Football Club striker David Villa in today’s game against its biggest rival.

Villa matched Jackson’s three clouts into the Yankee Stadium bleachers with three strikes into the back of the net for his first career Major League Soccer hat trick, with his 73rd minute penalty being the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls in an entertaining, end-to-end thriller in the latest edition of the Hudson River Derby.

Not only did this mark the second consecutive victory for NYCFC against the Red Bulls (a first in the head-to-head series for New York City), it ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Bulls, one of the most in-form teams in the league coming into this week. At the end of the contest, Villa was substituted for in the 90th minute, leaving to a standing ovation, something similar to Jackson’s curtain call after his third home run deep into the black seats in the bleachers of the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

Since 2015, Villa and Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips have scored more goals than any other players in the league, and the build-up of this game being a matchup of two clinical strikers more than lived up to that hype, with both players accounting for all of the goals in the contest. Villa took advantage of a sloppy turnover in the middle of the field by Red Bulls defender Damien Perrinelle, the pass being redirected by NYCFC midfielder Alexander Ring and onto the streaking Villa. All alone with only goalkeeper Luis Robles to beat, Villa lost Robles with a stutter step before finishing with his left foot to give NYCFC the lead in the 28th minute.

If anyone was going to get the Red Bulls back into the game, especially against their rivals, it was going to be Wright-Phillips, and he converted a through ball by Alex Muyl and slid past Sean Johnson in goal to tie the score at one in the 41st minute. That goal was Wright-Phillips’ ninth goal in eight matches against NYCFC.

It took 23 more minutes of playing time to take Wright-Phillips’ tally to 10, as he was able to convert a Tyler Adams cross and steered it past Johnson to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead. Adams was able to keep possession of the balll despite a sliding challenge by defender Alexander Callens, keeping his feet and the ball before delivering that low cross to Wright-Phillips.

Any thoughts of the Red Bulls continuing their dominance after Wright-Phillips’ go-ahead goal lasted only eight minutes, as Villa made a zig-zagging run, turning around Red Bulls midfielder Aaron Long like a top before finding the back of the net from the top of the box with a right-footed screamer past Robles low to his near post.

Villa capped off the comeback by drawing a penalty in the 72nd minute, as defender Sal Zizzo got his right foot up high near Villa’s face in the box, with referee Baldomero Toledo calling for the spot kick – and Zizzo receiving a yellow card after a lengthy discussion with Toledo and the assistant referee. Villa sent Robles the wrong way with the spot kick, sending NYCFC back into the lead.

The Red Bulls ended the game with 10 men after Zizzo picked up his second yellow card in the 90th minute.

New York City Football Club, despite coming into the game winning only one of its last four games, has still yet to lose consecutive league matches this season, as they bounced back from its 4-0 humbling at the hands of Toronto FC to pick up its third-ever league victory against the Red Bulls.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from tonight’s game, with all photos taken by our 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 28 pictures in total.

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