Missed chances sunk the New York Red Bulls against rivals New York City FC on Saturday night, 2-1.

The first-ever Hudson River Derby at Citi Field featured a phenomenal goal from Cameron Harper. But it also showed this was both teams’ third game in eight days, with shifted rosters and unlikely heroes.

New York City has jumped the Red Bulls in the standings, with both teams now at 23 points.

NYCFC is now third behind FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami CF.

RBNY is in fourth ahead of Toronto FC, Charlotte FC, and the Columbus Crew.

“I’m positive because I see the whole roster, how they prepare for the next game, how they train on the field. So, I’m very happy to be here with the whole team and staff, to work every day, to be very close together,” head coach Sandro Schwarz said after the match.

“At this moment, we don’t think about the last two games. So, the only feeling is now that we lost this game today. We are very disappointed, but when we wake up tomorrow, hopefully, we will analyze the game seriously.”

Fans knew forward Emil Forsberg was listed as questionable with an undisclosed illness heading into the match. The night’s starting XI had him on the bench, replaced by Dante Vanzeir. Kyle Duncan was put on the right flank, and Sean Nealis replaced Andres Reyes at center back.

New York City came out quickly to begin things. Hannes Wolf scored his second goal in as many games in the third minute. A play up the left side saw Malachi Jones cross into the box to Wolf. John Tolkien fell on his back, and Daniel Edelman missed a slide to block the shot.

This is the second straight match where NYCFC has scored a goal in the first five minutes.

As usual, New York City enjoyed a majority of possession in the first half and decimated the wide areas of the field. Kyle Duncan was put out multiple times by Jones and Keaton Parks. He wasn’t able to block plays from forming, which allowed many dangerous passes into the box to come from his area.

When asked about Duncan’s play by NYCSN, Schwarz defended the player.

“This was not only Kyle. What we have to do better is prepare our pressing in some moments. This was especially (true) in the first half, the first ten-fifteen minutes, and the situation where they scored.”

Schwarz went on to say the strikers were not in good positions during the first half, which meant the team struggled to counter.

Multiple times in the first 45 minutes, Elias Manoel and Dante Vanier muffed or completely missed chances on net. Vanzeir held the ball for too long on at least two plays in the NYCFC box, which resulted in either a bad pass or an interception. Elias Manoel had a 4v2 chance in the 41st minute and shot incredibly wide left from outside the box.

Ahead of stoppage time, the best chance on the net was in the 16th minute. Scottish forward Lewis Morgan slammed the left post with a shot from outside of the box. 

Instead, the tying goal came from a different Scot (he has half citizenship). Cameron Harper scored his third goal in three games one minute into stoppage time. The 25-yard strike got between a diving Matt Freese and the upper right corner of the net, slamming off the crossbar and past the goal line.

Harper did a penguin slide on Citi Field’s left field to celebrate his third goal of the season.

This is the most Harper has ever scored as a pro in a single season.

“He’s been playing great,” said Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Edelman.

“Definitely one of my closest mates, and he’s stepped up. He’s been ready for his moment when he’s got the opportunity, and he took it again today. He’s a massive piece for us, and I’m looking forward to what he brings to the team.”

Harper was on a yellow card at the break and was subbed off for Wiki Carmona. Schwarz said after the game that this was because of the yellow and Harper’s slight hamstring injury. The coach went on to say that Harper has been doing incredibly well in training. The first-year Red Bull coach is just as happy to see it pay off in matches, both as a starter and off the bench.

A more pedestrian second half saw RBNY come out faster and get more shots than the home side. Matt Freese made three critical saves to stop the Red Bulls from taking the lead early in the second half. He was helped by great performances from Thiago Martins and Birk Risa.

The hero of the night for a majority of the reported crowd of over 30,000 was, surprisingly, Monsef Bakrar. The NYCFC forward scored his third goal since joining the team in July of last year. NYCFC built pressure on the flanks, eventually ending with Wolf playing the ball to Tayvon Gray in the 64th. Gray crossed it in so it could be tapped in by the foot of Bakrar, who’d only entered the game a few minutes earlier.

New York was unable to find an equalizer. The team eventually brought in Forsberg off the bench but ran out of offensive weapons to fall on. Eventually, the last sub of the game was Andres Reyes.

Sean Nealis was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time. NYCFC’s Mitja Ilenic was taking the ball down the right side in transition when Nealis slid for the ball. The replay showed the play to be close, with Nealis appearing to get the ball before the player.

It is unclear if this card will be challenged, and Schwarz did not want to speak about the officials.

“Definitely disappointed. But we don’t want to take away the fact that we got six out of nine points,” Edelman said.

“It’s a good week for us. It’s not great. We wanted to take it all in,e, but now we look back at this game,e, and we have learned from it. We know we need to do better. I think it speaks for itself. We have chances we need to put away, and then we just need to be more compact and allow them to move the ball side to side. That’s fine. Not threatening. It’s just a matter of fact if they penetrate to the middle. We just need to take our break right now and then get ready for Charlotte. That’s the next goal: to get three points there.”

The New York Red Bulls can now enjoy a week’s rest before they take the field again. In late May and early June, they will play back-to-back home games.

First, they will play a playoff rematch against Charlotte FC on Wednesday, May 29. Then, the team will welcome Orlando City SC to Red Bull Arena.

“We have 10 day’s time until the next game, home game Charlotte,” Schwarz said.

“We are disappointed that we lost the derby game. For us to have this feeling now and does not go out with nine points, that can happen; heads up. I said this correctly in the locker room, so the heads go down. We have to come back stronger. For the next opportunity, we will have to wait for the next few pages. This is not too good. But after a losing game, we must wait for the next game, and we will return.”


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