Welcome to New York, Hudson River Derby. The soccer world has been waiting for you.
The first cross-river matchup of the Red Bulls and the expansion NYC FC lived up to the hype. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice, NYC FC showed gumption, and the sellout crowd at Red Bull Arena Sunday got the show it was looking for as the Red Bulls, who played most of the game a man down, held on for the 2-1 win.
NYC FC (1-6-3) is winless in its last eight games.
"In the end, it was a test of the will of this team . . . and what it takes to be a man down," Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. "I think we grew so much today. It was a character win . . . I'm proud of my team more than ever."
The crackling environment befitted the inaugural match of the derby, one that MLS hopes will become a classic. The small but boisterous NYC FC contingent was stationed over a swath of sections in the north end and provided plenty of loud, antagonistic motivation for their equally antagonistic rivals across the way.
In the fourth minute, Lloyd Sam chipped a pass along the touchline to Wright-Phillips, who tipped the ball to the left of the diving Josh Saunders for the opening goal. NYC FC looked to have netted the equalizer off a set piece in the 20th minute, but after Pablo Alvarez's through ball, Chris Wingert was deemed offside.
In the 36th minute, Matt Miazgo drew his second yellow and an ejection, but the Red Bulls (4-1-4) almost seemed to enjoy the extra breathing room. They scored in the 52nd minute on a tip-in by a scurrying Wright-Phillips.
"We were taking all kinds of risks probably a little too early and they hit us on the counter, which effectively killed the game," NYC FC coach Jason Kreis said.
NYC FC answered in the 76th minute when Patrick Mullins, substituting for star striker David Villa, scooted in a cross from RJ Allen.
Before the game, Red Bulls fans unfurled a large banner reading "The Big Apple/Red to the Core Since Day One." That banner was followed by a larger one, unfurled from the rafters: It portrayed Snow White's Dopey, clad all in NYC FC blue. It read, "20 Years Late and a Stadium Short" -- a nod to the fact that New York City plays at Yankee Stadium. The 25,217 in attendance was the 15th sellout in Red Bulls history.
"Every derby is different and this one is special because it's new and each one is trying and we got it," Wright-Phillips said. "We can let history tell the story in the future."