Fast forward to Wednesday night and it’s the same opening match, a renewal of the Hudson River Derby a month after the Red Bulls trounced NYCFC 4-0 in the first of three regular-season matchups.
Considering those two facts, Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch is preparing for a blue-clad invasion Wednesday night.
“I’ve listened to their comments and they, for sure, are carrying anger from the last competition we had, so I expect them to come out with a good team, to go after this, to make a point,” Marsch said after training Tuesday. “We have to expect their absolute best. We’re preparing that way.”
However, Marsch said it has been difficult trying to figure out what team and what formation NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira will utilize Wednesday. After losses to the Portland Timbers and the aforementioned defeat to the Red Bulls, Vieira has played with three in the back in the last three league matches before switching back to the favored 4-3-3 for the second half of a 3-0 win over Orlando City SC Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
And then there’s the, “Who?” U.S. Open Cup rules state a team can only have five foreign players on an 18-man roster, which presents problems especially for NYCFC. Saturday, seven of NYCFC’s starting XI were international players — and none of them were named David Villa.
“Regardless of who is on the field, they’re going to be prepared to really throw everything at us,” Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis said. “This New York City team is very good, they have a lot of good players regardless of who is on the field so that’s something we have to be ready for and I think the guys are going to be up for it.”
Marsch, too, said he has tough decisions to make. It’s less about the six available international players to fit into the five spots, but rather the depth, or lack thereof, with five key players on international duty (Tim Parker and Tyler Adams with the United States, Fidel Escobar and Michael Murillo with Panama and Kaku with Paraguay).
“I think, physically, we’ve regenerated and are ready to push again after our trip to New England, and I think guys learned that just stepping on the field isn’t enough,” Marsch said. “We’ll be ready for a big challenge and this Cup means a lot to us. Every year I’ve been here we’ve taken this tournament very seriously and we will again.”