New York is Blue! New York City F.C complete the sweep of the MLS Hudson River Derby over rivals Red Bulls for the first time in club history. After coming off a Campeones Cup victory on Wednesday, New York City look like they are back with another phenomenal 2-0 performance against their cross-town rivals.
Red Bulls came into the game already clinching a playoff spot, but are looking to secure that third place slot. New York needed a win on Saturday and a loss from Orlando to clinch the playoffs. In a stadium with over 30,000 fans, this was New York City’s largest game of the year.
Alexander Callens’ Superb Performance
Callens was outstanding and well deserving of player of the match on Saturday. He got the team to an early lead in the first minute off a corner kick from Maxi Morales. He later blocks Luquinhas shot in front of the net to prevent the Red Bulls from tying the game. The Red Bulls had a difficult time getting through Callens on the left side of the field as he denied almost every cross and dribble from them.
He ended the game with two interceptions, three clearances and two very important blocks. Intern head coach Nick Cushing spoke very highly of Callens and explained why he is one of MLS’ best defenders. “He’s an incredible guy. He’s a guy who has done everything to get the performance he has and in my opinion, at his level, he is the best central defender in the MLS by a long way” said Cushing during the post-game conference.
The Offense is Finding its Grove
The team has struggled to score goals with the loss of Taty Castellanos. Cushing has tried putting Heber in the striker position, but he continues to battle with injuries and form. He has also tried putting Tallen Magno in the striker position, but just looks uncomfortable playing in that role. This means they will have to find other ways to get goals, and that is with set plays. The first goal against Atlas and both of Saturday’s goals came from set piece plays that New York capitalized on. During the 23rd minute after Morales’ corner, New York City played with the ball around the box until Santiago Rodriguez finished it with a brilliant strike to the net.
However, they only had five shots (three on target) compared to the Red Bulls’ nine shots (one on target). It was still New York City coming out on top and completing the sweep of the MLS Hudson River Derby. The positive from New York’s past two games is they can find ways to produce goals on set pieces.
Sean Johnson and the Defense’s Amazing Performance
Sean Johnson continues his excellent run in the MLS with another upstanding season. He now has 14 clean sheets and is tied for first for the most in the league. Though Johnson did not record a save, he had two very crucial clearances that helped maintained his clean sheet. Besides Callens, the defense looks a whole lot better overall compared to other games. When both Callens and Chanot play in the back, it is very hard for opposing teams to get passed them.
Chanot had one of his best games so far with several tackles and clearances to deny the Red Bulls. He totaled six clearances, two interceptions and two tackles. Thiago Martins made up the own goal against Cincinnati that costed them a win with three clearances and two interceptions. The young hometown player Tayvon Gray also had a solid performance as right back with two tackles and a clearance. The defense was the reason why New York completed the sweep of the MLS Hudson River Derby by denying the Red Bulls of any chance of scoring and shutting down all their plays and counterattacks.
Words From Intern Head Coach Nick Cushing
Nick Cushing showed plenty of emotions in the sidelines during both goals and was very proud of their team’s performance during the Hudson River derby. He spoke how his team had to mentally focus on the game in very short amount of time after beating Atlas on Wednesday and they did exactly what he asked them to do.
“We played a game that was mentally, emotionally and physically taxing on us and we go the win against Atlas, which was a big one. Then we had to roll into two days of recovery, no training time. You have to manage how much tactics, how many meetings, how much information you put into tired minds. I have to rely on the guys to dig really deep and the performance was 10 out of 10.
When asked about why New York City may not have the best attacking team, he immediately spoke about the game against Atlas and Red Bulls proved them wrong and why the team is dangerous on both sides of the field.
“I think people sometimes perceive that we like to play good football but maybe we don’t have the other side. The last two games have shown that probably against the best two teams at being direct and making the game messy, we can do both sides of the game.”
What is Next for the Club
With international break coming up, Alexander Callens (Peru), Sean Johnson (United States), and Maxime Chanot (Luxemboug) will all represent their countries during the break. New York City have two games remaining to try to secure a place in the playoffs. With Orlando City beating Toronto 4-0, New York will have to wait until Oct. 2 when they face Orlando and what will be the team’s most important game of the season.
If New York secure third or fourth in the East, they get homefield advantage for the first round of playoffs. The team was fourth last year and went to win it all in 2021. However, they will have to face the challenge of playing their home game at Red Bulls Arena, where they have failed to win a game there as the home team this season.