Another Hudson River Derby occurred on Wednesday night though this one was in the US Open Cup, a competition in which New York City FC is yet to win a match in. Playing host was the New York Red Bulls who actually went all the way to the US Open Cup final last season where they lost to Sporting Kansas City.
Despite NYCFC having no success in the competition in the past and the hosts having a successful campaign in 2017, the match promised to be exciting as all matches between these two are. Injuries, international duty and just giving some players an opportunity, neither side played a full-strength team but as the league grows, the depth gets better, and fans were shown that on Wednesday.
Just like they did a month ago, the Red Bulls took an early lead, this time through Vincent Bezecourt. A quick turn at the top of the box and a blast to the bottom corner gave the hosts an early lead. Following that, Cédric Hountondji picked up an injury and NYCFC's nightmare continued as they were forced to make a 6th-minute substitution seeing Sebastien Ibeagha enter the pitch.
NYCFC had the better of things for the next quarter of an hour or so but it was the hosts who had the next big chance. Alex Muyl's work on the wing lead to him driving a low cross to Derrick Etienne whose shot hit the side netting.
As usual, when David Villa's side is down, it turned into the "David Villa Show" as his flicks, passes and few shots is what had his fans excited for most of the half. The Spaniard was the key to plenty of counter attacks for NYCFC but none of which found the back of the net in the opening half hour.
On the other end, Etienne and Muyl connected once again in the 27th minute with the latter's show flying over the bar missing the chance to double his sides lead. Just minutes later, Jonathan Lewis lead a counter-attack which saw him play the ball ahead of Jesus Medina. The Paraguayan elected to cross the ball to Thomas McNamara at the far post who saw his shot blocked by a diving Kemar Lawrence.
In the 37th minute, NYCFC came as close as you can to an equalizer without scoring. Jonathan Lewis' shot was stopped by Ryan Meara but left a rebound attempt for David Villa. El Guaje knocked the ball onto the line but in heroic fashion, the ball was cleared out and the scoreline remained 1-0 in favor of the hosts.
Despite a fairly open game and the chance for goals both ways, Bezecourt's 2nd-minute strike was the lone goal in the half and the two Hudson River rivals had to go into the break with a 1-0 scoreline.
Becoming all too familiar for NYCFC now as they once again started the weaker of the two sides to start a half. Once again, they were forced to pay as Aaron Long's header gave the Red Bulls a two-goal lead early in the second half.
Just before the hour mark, homegrown signing, Joe Scally, entered the field for the visitors taking off David Villa. This was the 15-year-old's first professional minutes as he is yet to any action in MLS play.
Not much happened on either end until the 70th minute when NYCFC had a chance to put a goal on the board. Saad Abdul-Salaam darted forward before playing Joe Scally the ball who then moved it to Medina. The Paraguayan played it to Lewis who laid it off to Ben Sweat who saw his shot saved by Meara.
Like Scally, James Sands came onto the field giving him his first appearance for NYCFC this season marking the first time in club history that NYCFC had two homegrowns on the field at the same time. If Patrick Vieira is to take any positives from the match, it will be that his youth had the opportunity to play.
When NYCFC decided they wanted a goal in the 86th minute, they were hit on the counter and the Red Bulls slotted home their third and put the game to bed. Well, Royer wasn't done He decided he wanted two goals in two minutes so he did just that. 4-0 to the hosts for the second time this season. The final whistle was blown and NYCFC were forced to go back to New York with nothing but disappointment.
For the Red Bulls, they have three games remaining in the month of June following the US Open Cup game on Wednesday. First up, they travel to Ohio to face the Columbus Crew before returning home for back-to-back home games at Red Bull Arena, both of which will be against Western Conference opposition. First, we'll see a midweek clash of RBNY and a struggling Seattle Sounders side before eventually seeing a hot FC Dallas side come into town.
As for NYCFC, they also have three games remaining in June following Wednesday's clash. Also like RBNY, two of these games will take place at home with the first having heavy implications on the Supporters' Shield race at this point in the season. The winner of the NYCFC vs Atlanta United battle will sit at the top of the aforementioned table at nearly the midway point in the season.
Next, NYCFC will welcome a Toronto FC which have shocked MLS fans across the country, though, not in the way they've done in the past few years. Sebastian Giovinco and company are yet to get the ball rolling this season and have quite the task ahead of them at Yankee Stadium. Then, to conclude the month of June, the boys in blue will head over to face the Chicago Fire.