HARRISON, N.J. - Curses, foiled again.
After the Red Bulls scored the first goal of what turned into a 2-0 win Sunday night, New York City FC coach Jason Kreis' frustration was never more apparent on national TV and on the replay screens at Red Bull Arena as he cursed to no one in particular.
It was NYC FC's third loss in as many tries against the rival Red Bulls as the teams concluded their first regular-season derby.
The result left expansion NYC FC in eighth place in the MLS Eastern Conference with a 6-11-6 record. The Red Bulls (10-6-6) moved back into second place.
NYC FC lost the first encounter here on May 10, 2-1, and dropped a 3-1 decision at Yankee Stadium on June 28.
"I'm very frustrated with a third loss to any opponent," Kreis said. "This has become a heated rivalry very quickly, so we were really up for this game. I really thought we'd get a better result."
Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch called it a "big-time victory."
"No doubt this was special," he said.
Kreis was seen cursing when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the first goal from point-blank range off a marvelous feed from Kemar Lawrence in the 21st minute. Defender Jefferson Mena slipped while trying for the ball.
Kreis explained his reaction. "Their player fouled us, but [the referee] gave them the ball," he said. "It was a ridiculous call. It led directly to their goal. From my point of view, he was very poor tonight."
Felipe Martins added an insurance tally in the 85th minute.
The visitors got an inkling it was going to be a long night before kickoff. The Red Bulls' faithful in the South Ward mocked their rivals, unveiling a giant banner of NYC's former and aging internationals -- Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo -- with the caption "City Retirement Home."
It continued during the match. Red Bulls center backs Damien Perrinelle and Matt Miazga wrapped up star striker David Villa for most of the game. Pirlo could not shake Sacha Kljestan, and Lampard fired wide left and then right on his two attempts.
With only 11 games remaining in the 34-game season, to reach the playoffs, NYC must make a move soon. The six top teams in each 10-team conference will qualify.
"There were a lot of positives from this game," Kreis said. "I still think this team is still alive with a chance and they can make something of the opportunity."
But NYC first must reach the postseason. "If we do,'' Kreis said, "there will be a lot of people nervous who will have to play us."