BRONX, N.Y. — New York City FC earned bragging rights and created separation in the Eastern Conference standings with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls in the latest edition of the Hudson River Derby in front of an announced crowd of 28,895 Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.
Maxi Moralez struck before halftime from the penalty spot and Heber broke the stalemate in the 53rd minute to secure NYCFC’s third consecutive win in the span of eight days.
“We’re doing well. We know what we want and what we’re looking for,” Moralez said. “We have a couple games in hand and obviously winning the games we have left, we can go to the top. We’ll enjoy this moment, but we’ll get some rest to be ready when we come back against Vancouver.”
NYCFC (13-5-8, 47 points) remains a point out of first place and six points clear of the fourth-place Red Bulls (12-11-5, 41 points), which won the previous meeting between the teams by the same scoreline July 14 at Red Bull Arena.
“The difference today, we played not just 45 minutes, maybe the last 10 minutes we didn’t play well, we were nervous a little bit and we miss a lot of balls. Maybe the difference is we play 60-70 minutes in a row well,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. “Against Red Bulls [at Red Bull Arena] we played 45 minutes unbelievable, for me, it’s my opinion. But the rest of the game you know what happened there.”
Almost fittingly, the game’s first goal came from the left foot of Alex Muyl, who hails from the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Cristian Casseres picked off the ball in midfield and passed to Muyl.
Muyl and Kaku navigated some tight space with a quick interchange, and Muyl took a touch into the box before firing past Sean Johnson to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.
“Cristian found me with a good ball, I was able to turn in the pocket, played a little one-two with Kaku, had it on left foot and just hit it well,” Muyl said. “I think it took a little deflection and went in. I just hit it on frame and hit it with power.”
Taty Castellanos nearly had the equalizer nine minutes later when the 20-year-old Argentine latched onto a Ronald Matarrita cross after the left back won a second ball, but Castellanos put his header from 12 yards out off the crossbar.
Aug 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC celebrates a goal by midfielder Maximillano Moralez (10) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Heber made it two attempts off the crossbar in the 36th minute. The Brazilian, set up by a Castellanos headed layoff, rattled the woodwork. As he kicked the signage behind the net in frustration, Mitrita ran onto the rebound and put a shot on frame that Robles saved.
Moralez leveled from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute with his seventh goal of the season after being clattered over in the box by Michael Amir Murillo.
“You can’t give things away like this if you want to win games,” Armas said. “We’ve had this and the teams that finish on top, you can make those errors or listen, some guys go down easy. I mean, Murillo, it doesn’t look like he does that much and Moralez just falls over. Maybe every time on corner kicks there should be penalties.”
The strong response from conceding early continued in the 45th minute when Robles got a hand on an Alexandru Mitrita free kick that appeared destined to sneak just under the crossbar.
Three minutes after the restart, NYCFC put another shot off the post when Castellanos beat Aaron Long, dribbled along the endline and slipped a shot through Robles’ legs only to have it carom off the far post.
Heber broke the stalemate with his 13th goal of the season, a backheel nutmeg goal at the near post. Anton Tinnerholm, who beat Danny Royer, picked up the assist.
“I’m very happy to be able to score,” Heber said. “For us forwards, we always have a better night when we score.”
Three minutes later, Keaton Parks had a golden chance to extend NYCFC’s lead, but he put an open header wide of the net after Robles parried a Tinnerholm shot in his direction.
NYCFC ended the match with 10 men after Matarrita was shown a red card following video review for a head butt against Murillo in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.
While Torrent lauded his team’s performance, saying it was the best against the Red Bulls in his time as head coach, Armas complained about what he called NYCFC’s unprecedented time-wasting tactics late.
“I’ve not been in a game this year with that much time wasting from a team. That was really disappointing to see,”Armas said. “It’s worth saying that our referees have a difficult job, but I’ll tell you that no one paid to come here in a derby match to see this type of stoppages and delaying and moving up the field, like ‘the throw-in’s not here, can I change the soccer ball?’ Come on. For me? No good. Our league should look at that and how do we manage that? You pull out yellow cards? Yeah. Because I mean our team would never do this.”
When told of Armas’ complaint, Torrent responded with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
“OK, I agree with Chris,” Torrent said. “If for Chris the game is the last 10 minutes when the opponent hit the crossbar three times and one post, I agree with Chris.”
It’s not a derby if not for some drama.