Red Bulls Herald Robust Rivalry, Then Cower Before N.Y.C.F.C.

N.Y.C.F.C. displayed a precise high-press offense and controlled the midfield with Alexander Ring and Yangel Herrera while the Red Bulls futilely retreated into possession mode in their half of the field. It was enough to make the N.Y.C.F.C. supporters in the crowd, announced at 25,219, drown out the Red Bulls loyalists, taunting them with chants like “We can’t hear you!”

The loss was only the Red Bulls’ second in seven regular-season meetings between the teams, games in which they had outscored N.Y.C.F.C. by a combined 18-5, including an unforgettable 7-0 humiliation in May 2016 at Yankee Stadium. Less than two weeks ago, the Red Bulls eliminated N.Y.C.F.C. from the U.S. Open Cup with a 1-0 victory.

These did not look like the same teams, however.

“We were dangerous with the ball and compact without the ball,” said N.Y.C.F.C.’s David Villa, who came off in the 83rd minute. “We worked for this, and it’s important to our supporters who came here.”

The result reinforced a growing sense that these teams are headed in opposite directions. The Red Bulls, with a largely young, homemade lineup, clearly miss the passion and play once contributed by midfielder Dax McCarty, who was traded to the Chicago Fire in January. N.Y.C.F.C., on the other hand, is playing disciplined soccer and riding a four-match unbeaten streak in league play.

Jack Harrison scored the first goal, an arcing left-footed shot from 12 yards out in the 33rd minute, after receiving a touch back-pass from Ben Sweat on the left side of the penalty box.

Sweat scored the second goal on a header — a ball he sent over goalkeeper Luis Robles from a deep left-side angle — off a long pass from Ring in the 65th minute.

There were several other strong scoring opportunities for N.Y.C.F.C. while the Red Bulls created just one weak shot at goal. N.Y.C.F.C.’s back line closed passing lanes to the Red Bulls’ prolific forward Bradley Wright-Phillips,…

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