As he walked across the infield and rightfield at Yankee Stadium toward his team’s bench prior to taking on New York City FC Sunday night, Chris Armas showed his appreciation and applauded the Red Bulls faithful sitting in the upper deck.
Needless to say, he was pumped up about making his head coaching debut with the MLS club — not too far from where he was born in the Bronx.
As it turned out, there wasn’t much for Armas and the Red Bulls to cheer about as they went down to a 1-0 defeat in the Hudson River Derby before a season-high crowd of 30,027.
“It’s obviously disappointing to not to come out with points,” Armas said. “It was close to getting a draw. To leave here in a big match, in a derby match, it was disappointing.”
After getting thrashed by the Red Bulls (10-5-2, 32 points) by 4-0 scores in matches in May and June, NYCFC (10-4-4, 34) needed the result in so many ways as the team climbed ahead of its rivals into second place in the Eastern Conference. NYCFC also extended its home unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1).
The Red Bulls still lead the all-time series, 8-3-2, with one derby match remaining this season.
Despite playing without the injured David Villa (knee), NYCFC managed to secure three points as Maxi Moralez tallied his seventh goal of the season, firing home a right-wing feed from second-half sub Jonathan Lewis from 8 yards in the 85th minute.
“There was really no flow to the game tonight,” Armas said. “Against good teams, you can’t waste a half.”
Since the last time these two rivals met in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, both teams have replaced their coaches.
NYCFC’s Domenec Torrent — he succeeded Patrick Vieira, who left to coach in Nice, France — directed his third match. Armas replaced Jesse Marsch, who reportedly soon will join Red Bull Leipzig in Germany in a coaching capacity.
“I was very comfortable today,” Armas said. “I was comfortable in the role. The comfort comes from the group of guys that I am coaching. There is a respect there. Knowing we’re a good team gives the coach comfort.”
The Red Bulls woke up in the second half, but NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was up to the task, slapping away left back Kemar Lawrence’s drive in the 65th minute.