Both the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC have a lot to prove this Saturday. The first edition of the Hudson River Derby this season will feature two teams on positive stretches.
The Red Bulls are on a two-game winning streak and are near the top of the Eastern Conference. NYCFC is just below them, and the team has looked better after an atrocious start to 2024.

New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC
PHOTO: New York Red Bulls

Both teams are hot now, but that is a far cry from last year. The Red Bulls went unbeaten in matches against New York City, keeping the tradition alive.

But turbulence on and off the field shadowed the success.

  • September 16, 2023

  • New York City FC 0-0 New York Red Bulls

  • Yankee Stadium – Bronx, NY

An incredibly boring match, with the only shining light being a trophy… of a shining light.

The under-attended clash saw RBNY and NYCFC play to a frustrating 0-0 draw. Matt Freese was the main highlight, with a three-save performance, including a diving redirection on Omir Fernandez in the 75th minute.

For reference, Carlos Coronel only made two saves, with both coming after the 83rd minute.

Neither team really looked like they wanted to score, but the result did earn the Red Bulls the first-ever Hudson River Derby Trophy—a slight positive on a dull day.

Both teams were desperately fighting for the playoffs at this time. On the last day of the season, the Bulls made the cut as a wildcard team, but City missed out by two points.

  • August 3, 2023

  • New York Red Bulls 1-0 New York City FC – Leagues Cup

  • Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ

The Red Bulls remained perfect against New York City in knockout matches. However, fan violence overshadowed the result.

The third League Cup tournament was the first to feature every team in Major League Soccer and Liga MX. Both New York teams got out of their three-team groups and qualified for the knockout round, which set up a Round of 32 meeting in Harrison.

Omir Fernandez retained his “City Killer” aura by scoring the game’s only goal, a penalty kick midway through the first half. NYCFC was continuously pressured by the high-pressing Red Bulls attack. Both teams got incredibly physical as the match wore on.

However, the real news came out after the final whistle. Outside of Red Bull Arena, New York City fans clashed with Red Bull fans. This led Harrison police to intervene; however, no arrests were made that night. Additionally, claims of weapons being used. Such as a knife, were made by multiple witnesses.

The effects of this night are still being felt to this day. Torcida 96, a Red Bulls supporters group, was attempting to become officially recognized prior to this. However, the blame for the confrontation was put on their members, who were jumping NYCFC fans. While the group is still active, the talks of them becoming officially part of the South Ward have been put on ice.

  • May 13, 2023

  • New York Red Bulls 1-0 New York City FC

  • Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ

Another Red Bulls win, another Omir Fernandez goal against New York City.

Then-brand new Red Bulls head coach Troy Lesesne had been getting a crash course in rivalry matches.

Coming off a win over D.C. United in the Open Cup, the man who replaced Gerhard Struber, notched his first HRB win as well.

“It’s been a lot. It’s been a lot this week, and it will be a lot going forward,” Lesesne said during the post-match press conference.

“But that’s what you hope for. Whenever you get an opportunity like this, you want to obviously make the most of it. I’m at a great club, and I’ve been given an opportunity that I want to try and maximize.”

The match was one of the first times in the 2023 season that Red Bull Arena felt alive, not just with home supporters but also with the large blue-away contingent in the upper corner. 

Both teams had chances in the first half. However, NYCFC’s Kevin O’Toole made a pass into Talles Magno, who found Gabriel Pereira. A curved shot sailed just wide of the intended top left corner past a diving Carlos Coronel.

In the end, Bronx native Omir Fernandez stepped up to score his third-ever goal against NYCFC (across all competitions). A throw-in found Wikelman Carmona in the NYCFC end, who attempted to pass into the box. It was intercepted by City’s Tayvon Grey and Pereira but not effectively cleared.

The ball bounced towards Fernandez, who essentially chipped Barraza by putting the ball between his jumping hand and under the crossbar.

“Every time we go into these games, I try to score whether I start the game or come off the bench,” Fernandez said after the game.

“It means a lot to me; honestly, I talk about these games with my family and friends all the time, so to get a goal and be the difference today was really great.”


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