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Key to Hudson River Derby success? Winning midfield battle

 

HANOVER, N.J. — The forwards are the stars, but New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch believes the midfielders are key to deciding who wins the 11th edition of the Hudson River Derby Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena.

“I think it’s a game that’s going to set up to be a battle in the midfield, of a lot of little 50/50 balls, of tackles and moments that lead to picking up a ball and going to transition,” Marsch said. “Obviously the more we can put Bradley Wright-Phillips on transition and the less that we can have David Villa going on transition, then that’s a good recipe for us.”

And both teams look different than in years past in the center of the park. The Red Bulls traded linchpin Felipe and playmaker Sacha Kljestan and signed young Argentine Kaku as a Young Designated Player.

The combination of Sean Davis, Tyler Adams and Kaku average 22.3 years of age.

Adams, particularly, has impressed New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira.

“He’s a young promising talent. He’s full of energy, he’s defending well, but he can play as well,” Vieira said. “I think he’s got a really bright future in front of him and I think he’s progressing every year. He’s getting experience playing international level as well. I think it’s good for the Red Bulls and good for the U.S. national team.”

Three years ago, the South Ward at Red Bull Arena famously ridiculed NYCFC’s aging superstars Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo with a TiFo titled “City Retirement Home” before the Red Bulls won 2-0 to sweep the first year of the derby.

Final Red Bulls tifo

A post shared by Dylan Butler (@dylanbutler1974) on

But since Vieira arrived, NYCFC has also become younger and more dynamic with the trio of Alex Ring, Yangel Herrera and Maxi Moralez averaging 26 years of age.

NYCFC also signed Jesus Medina, a 20-year-old Paraguayan, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, a 24-year-old Libyan, in the offseason with both making a difference on the wings.

“You look at their team the first couple of years and they had guys who really wanted to keep possession and maybe weren’t up for the combative side of things as much as they are now,” Adams said. “You have guys who are going after it, pressing, trying to win balls and go forward as quickly as possible and score goals, similar to what we try to do and how young our midfield is. If we can win that battle on the day, it can set up to be a really interesting game.”

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