New York City FC

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MLS Snapshot: NYCFC add to Galaxy’s misery, win 2-0 in LA

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The game in 100 words (or less): At the risk of making the same mistake two seasons in a row (writing the Seattle Sounders off in early August), it’s time to forget about the LA Galaxy making the playoffs in 2017. Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of New York City FC was their seventh in eight games. Sigi Schmid inherited an absolute mess of a squad, which currently sits nine points out of the sixth and final playoff place in the Western Conference. Rookie Jonathan Lewis scored the game’s opening goal, his first in MLS, and David Villa added the insurance 15 minutes before full-time, his league-leading 18th of the season. NYCFC leapfrogged the Chicago Fire, who lost on Saturday, for second place in the Eastern Conference and remain four points back of Toronto FC in the race for the Supporters’ Shield (and home-field advantage in the playoffs).

[ MORE: Assessing the top moves of the MLS summer transfer ]

Three moments that mattered

40′ — Johnson makes a reaction save to deny Pele — No, you didn’t read that wrong. (Pele van Anholt, that is.)

54′ — Lewis curls a beauty past Rowe for 1-0 — It’s a wonderful strike by Lewis, but one must acknowledge Jermaine Jones’ flailing challenge which comes up painfully empty as the rookie skates past him and goes for goal.

73′ — Villa curls one past Rowe for 2-0 — We are truly fortunate to follow this league while this player continues to do his thing at this level. He’ll almost certainly become the first back-to-back MVP in MLS history.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Lewis (54′), Villa (73′)

Villa, NYCFC show courage with comeback win against Red Bulls

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Entering the 2017 MLS season, New York City FC had only defeated their cross-river rivals once.

[ MORE: Valeri’s scorcher helps Timbers run past Galaxy on Sunday ]

Now, in fairness to the team, it was a very small sample size of matches against the New York Red Bulls, but the results were certainly lopsided in the head-to-head series.

Fast forward to this season, and there have been changes within this NYCFC squad. Drastic chances. Noticeable changes that have pushed the team to another level.

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Patrick Vieira’s men traveled to Toronto last weekend to take on arguably the best side in the Eastern Conference and MLS, in Toronto FC, and NYCFC laid an egg with a brutal 4-0 defeat at the hands of Sebastian Giovinco and company.

The disappointment and anger that lingered from that match was not present on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium, though, as NYCFC came back and knocked off the Red Bulls in front of a packed 33,679-supporter crowd in the Bronx.

Perhaps the fight in the squad and ensuing result came because of the fact that club was facing its undoubted greatest rival. Or it was a result of NYCFC’s growing confidence and ability to exhibit short-term memory loss, even after a devastating defeat like they suffered north of the border last Sunday.

A club always expects its top players to be on their game at the biggest moments, and captain David Villa displayed that grit and tenacity in his play against the Red Bulls, which was something that the former Spanish international had had a difficult time doing in the past against Jesse Marsch’s group.

I try to do my best always, in the training facility or in games,” Villa said. “I try to show the young players I arrived to where I arrive because I always give 100 percent on the pitch.

“Sometimes you can play well like today and score three goals and sometimes you can play bad like in Toronto the other day, like I did, but it is mandatory to give 100% and I try to do that. If they show me like a leader, it is a pleasure to me.”

Not only did Villa score his first-ever MLS hat-trick, but the 35-year-old goalscorer helped his side come back from a 2-1 deficit with less than 20 minutes remaining in the rivalry match.

“I don’t like to come back every time, I hope we’re not always in the same situation, but it’s great,” Villa said following his three-goal performance. “If you look at the team it is great, the whole feeling. Today the team went down then back up so it was great.”

On top of that, NYCFC can boast the fact that they have captured the season series against their Harrison-based foe, which was something that they couldn’t say during the first two years of this growing rivalry.

To Vieira, though, the result doesn’t matter if NYCFC doesn’t build off of the result and establish consistency in its future endeavors.

“We are not a big team yet because a big team plays like this every week,” Vieira said.

He continued: “We are getting close to the Red Bulls (in terms of stature) and games like tonight show we are close.”

“I told them I want them to enjoy the win but keep their feet on the ground and focus on the details game by game.”

NYCFC will hit the road next weekend when Vieira and his side head west to take on the LA Galaxy on Saturday night.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 3-2 New York Red Bulls (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): If goals are your thing, Sunday’s New York Derby was a must-watch. Two of the league’s most dynamic goalscorers put on a show at Yankee Stadium, but it was David Villa that had the last say as he recorded his first MLS hat-trick and helped NYCFC capture its first season-series against their bitter rival. Meanwhile, Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his scoring tear against NYCFC in the defeat with his ninth and 10th goals against the Red Bulls’ cross-river rivals. The loss for Jesse Marsch’s side snaps the team’s four-match win streak, while NYCFC creates separation in third place in the Eastern Conference with the win.

Three four moments that mattered

28′ — Villa pounces, puts NYCFC in front — Red Bulls fans will be shouting for handball on Alex Ring, but the flag stayed down and David Villa does what he does best. That’s 15 goals on the season!

41′ — BWP keeps on torturing the rivals — Just moments after Jack Harrison’s penalty appeal, the all-time leading scorer for the Red Bulls does this… 1-1 at Yankee Stadium.

64′ — Guess who? Bradley gives Red Bulls the lead — If somebody is going to score in this rivalry, it’s quite clear who that player will be. Make it 10 goals for Wright-Phillips against NYCFC.

72′ — Villa decides to take everyone on — The captain hasn’t had the best track record of scoring against the Red Bulls in the past, but the former Barcelona star put that out of his mind on Sunday.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: David Villa (28′, 72′, 76′), Bradley Wright-Phillips (41′, 64′)

What’s the importance of an NYCFC win in Sunday’s New York Derby?

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In coach speak, teams simply play the teams on their schedule because that’s what has been shown to them.

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When New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls meet on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium though, it won’t be just another regular match.

In fact, when these two New York/New Jersey rivals meet on the pitch it’s never “just another regular match.”

2017 marks NYCFC’s third season in Major League Soccer, and it’s fair to say that the club has made tremendous strides forward during that short span in the league. However, one struggle that has remained constant for manager Patrick Vieira and his predecessor Jason Kreis has been the Bronx side’s record against the Red Bulls.

Entering Sunday’s match, the Red Bulls hold a 6-2 winning edge over NYCFC in all competitions, while outscoring Vieira’s men, 19-7 during those encounters.

Those statistics are a bit deceiving though.

Outside of the match that all NYCFC supporters want to permanently remove from their brains — the 7-0 Red Bulls victory at Yankee Stadium last May — six of the other seven matches between these two Eastern Conference foes have been decided by two goals or less.

NYCFC secured a 2-0 win when the two clubs met over a month ago at Red Bull Arena, which proved to be a comprehensive and overall impressive victory for Vieira’s men, who had never won at the Harrison stadium prior to that June 24 afternoon.

Now, there’s another target that NYCFC needs to hit.

A victory on Sunday would do two things for Vieira and Co…

  1. It would give NYCFC the season series against the Red Bulls prior to the two sides meeting again on August 25.
  2. It would further prove that this NYCFC is a legitimate East contender despite battling the injury bug, which includes the absences of Maxime Chanot, Ronald Matarrita and Miguel Camargo (who is out for the season).

The good news for the Bronx side is that they will likely have two key attackers back in the fold for Sunday’s match. Khiry Shelton practiced with the first team this week for the first time since April, while Rodney Wallace could be fit for the Red Bulls encounter after sitting out since a Gold Cup injury with Costa Rica left him sidelined.

Another victory against Red Bulls is going to require another tough performance from NYCFC, particularly given the current form of Jesse Marsch’s men.

The Red Bulls have won four straight matches, and their shift to three in the back has really seemed to open up the flow of their midfield and attack with players like Sean Davis and Tyler Adams having more freedom to move forward with the ball.

[ MORE: Orlando City signs third DP, Yoshi Yotun from Malmo ]

NYCFC has never scored more than two goals against the Red Bulls, which is something that must change at Yankee Stadium. Captain David Villa will be called upon to break his drought against his side’s cross-river rival, with the 35-year-old boasting just one finish against the Red Bulls in eight matches.

MLS preview: Contenders clash in NY derby, SKC-ATL, POR-LA

Photo credit: New York Red Bulls - Twitter: @NewYorkRedBulls
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Previewing the three biggest games (all on Sunday) this weekend, the first with video-assistant referee (VAR), in MLS…

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New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls — Sunday, 6 p.m. ET

After ending up on opposite ends of separate 4-0 drubbings last weekend, the Red Bulls enter Sunday’s showdown at Yankee Stadium winners of four straight (and five out of six), far and away their best run of form this season after a torrid time in April and May. NYCFC, meanwhile, find themselves in the midst of indifferent form (just one win from their last four, conceding 10 goals during that stretch) the likes of which they’ve rarely seen this year.

The last time these sides met, a month and a half ago at Red Bull Arena, it was the visitors who ran rampant en route to a 2-0 victory. Since that defeat, the lone loss in five games, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch altered his tactical approach, opting to go with three in the back, a loaded midfield with five bodies surrounding playmaker Sacha Kljestan, and Bradley Wright-Phillips the spearhead beneficiary (three goals in four games) of last year’s assist king (20) having his defensive duties drastically reduced. Wright-Phillips has an unbelievable scoring record in this Hudson River derby, bagging eight goals in seven games against the blue side of New York.

[ MORE: VAR to make its debut this weekend — what can we expect? ]

Sporting Kansas City vs. Atlanta United — Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

The post-Dom Dwyer era got off to a roaring start in KC last week, as Sporting knocked off the red-hot Chicago Fire thanks to an unexpected offensive explosion. With Dwyer no longer in the fold, Peter Vermes’ side is now able to play the expansive, possession-dominant soccer he’s coveted since the arrival of Ilie Sanchez last winter. The foundation remains the league’s best defense, though, (17 goals conceded in 22 games) now that Ike Opara is back from injury (concussion), as are Matt Besler and Graham Zusi following the Gold Cup. The month of August has proven Sporting’s undoing each of the last three years, as injuries and fatigue finally caught up to a hard-worked bunch. Contrary to popular demand, the rationing of minutes remains very heavily weighted toward the squad’s top 14 players.

As for Atlanta, they’ll attack with the same tempo and openness that ultimately proved Chicago’s undoing last week — it’s the only way they know to play, and it’s the reason their tied for most goals this season (41, level with Supporters’ Shield-leading Toronto FC). Unbeaten in five (four wins), Tata Martino’s can push the tempo beyond any opponent’s comfort level, even a control-crazed side like Sporting. In terms of entertaining soccer, this is the game of the weekend.

[ MORE: Miami (finally) close to stadium deal, expansion team ]

Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy — Sunday, 2 p.m. ET

Finally, let’s talk about two teams in need of a victory in the worst possible ways. Portland, winners of one of their last eight (four draws), host LA, winners of zero of their last six (five losses). Caleb Porter’s Timbers, by virtue of little more than their strong start to the season, currently occupy the fourth spot in a very weak Western Conference. By the time kickoff rolls around on Sunday, it’ll be nearly two months to the day since their last clean sheet.

With the clearly stated objective to get the Galaxy into the playoffs, Sigi Schmid has his work cut out after taking over for Curt Onalfo last week, as his new side currently sits seven points adrift of the sixth and final playoff place. The streak of eight straight seasons competing in the playoffs is in serious danger. Jonathan Dos Santos is highly unlikely to be available as he awaits his U.S. visa, which means another week of Jermaine Jones patrolling central midfield for the Galaxy. LA have won just nine points in the 11 games Jones has played this season (14 from 10 games without him).

Full MLS schedule

Saturday

D.C. United vs. Toronto FC — 7 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas — 7 p.m. ET
Montreal Impact vs. Orlando City SC — 7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota United vs. Seattle Sounders — 8 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution — 8:30 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo — 10 p.m. ET
Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 10 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Columbus Crew SC — 10:30 p.m. ET