New York Derby Growing in Hate but Not in Competitiveness After 2 Years
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Sunday, 24 July 2016 19:00

HARRISON, N.J. — The hate and passion are evident in the New York derby. 

All you have to do to realize that is look at the comments New York City FC boss Patrick Vieira made about New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch after the Red Bulls' 4-1 win at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. 

The former Arsenal midfielder accused Marsch of influencing the decisions of referee Mark Geiger due to comments he made during the week about refereeing in Major League Soccer.

“The referees, they all have the same rules," Vieira said. "They all read the paper like everybody else so we’re talking about all of them. You get influenced by what you read and what you hear. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to come out in a week when there’s a derby and there’s a reason why you can not."

"We just feel like we don't ever get the benefit of the doubt," Marsch said on Thursday, per Daniel Falkenheim of "I'm waiting for the referees, I'm waiting for anyone to recognize the fact that we have an honest team, that plays in an honest way, and gets punished for calls, for plays, for penalties, the whole bit, across the board and we hardly ever get rewarded."

Marsch returned fire after the match on Sunday with his own criticism of Vieira. 

“He never said anything to me," Marsch said. "That’s all I can say. He didn’t want to shake my hand in the hallway. I’ve seen this from him after the game before so it’s not a problem. I’m going to focus on us, and I think the game was decided by players in every way." 

The main talking point for the days to come will be Vieira's rant directed at everyone but his players. However, the true focus should be on the one-sided nature of the rivalry and the problems that still exist in making the derby competitive. 

Over the last two years, the Red Bulls have outscored NYCFC 18-5 and earned a record of five wins and one loss. Forward Bradley Wright-Phillips has found the back of the net three more times than City have as a whole in 540 minutes of action. 

The two victories by the Red Bulls in 2016 were a 7-0 thrashing at Yankee Stadium on May 21 and Sunday's 4-1 result. NYCFC came out on top on July 3 by a 2-0 score at home against a Red Bulls side weakened by three games in the span of eight days. 

Players and coaches on both sides will agree that the rivalry—and the bad blood that comes with it—have grown since the first derby contested at Red Bull Arena on May 10, 2015. However, the New York derby has a long way to go before it's considered an actual rivalry. 

"It has grown," Marsch said. "It's been there since day one. I think that's what's pretty awesome about it. From the fanbases to the organizations to the players, I think there's been a lot of energy and pride from both sides." 

In order for the New York derby to outmatch every single clash of rivals in MLS, it must become more competitive. NYCFC appeared to have a chance to grab the momentum in the series on Sunday as they entered in first place in the Eastern Conference and with a league-best away record of 6-3-1. 

However, the match was dominated by the home side from the first minute on. Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips found plenty of holes in the much-maligned NYCFC back line, while the rest of the attack originated its moves through the gaps in the center of the park. 

"With the way that they pressure, we felt like we could do certain things to gain advantages in certain parts of the field, which would then lead Sacha to find gaps in their team," Marsch said.

"And then whenever Sacha is catching balls in important spots, he knows that his first option is Brad. So his ability to sort of move and see things and then slip a ball to Brad the right way that sets him up to execute around the goal, that's what makes their relationship special, and that's what makes each one of them good. I think they really work off of each other to make each other better." 

"Obviously the game meant a lot to us in many different ways," Kljestan said. "We lost the last one, so we wanted to, you know, make sure we won the season series while also moving ourselves up in the standings. That was the most important thing for me in the end." 

Not only did Kljestan and Wright-Phillips control the attacking side of the pitch, the Red Bulls defenders kept David Villa and the rest of the NYCFC front line in check for the majority of the contest. The lone strike of the match from City came on a beautiful blast off the boot of Thomas McNamara in the 43rd minute. 

Other than McNamara's long-range effort, chances were few and far between. City's attack had functioned well since the resumption of league play following the Copa America Centenario break.

Villa, who leads MLS in scoring with 13 goals, recorded a meager 28 touches in 90 minutes, per Englishman Jack Harrison, whose entrance into the starting XI helped fuel more success, was silenced all day by Connor Lade. 

Marsch pinpointed the success Harrison had in the second meeting at Yankee Stadium as one of the things the Red Bulls had to stop on Sunday. 

"Jack made two big plays last time we played in New York City, but they were both when Connor wasn't around him," Marsch said. "I think that we really like that matchup. We like Connor; he's our best one-vs.-one defender. It's partly his low center of gravity, but it's partly he takes so much pride in it. He wills himself to win some of these battles." 

Throughout the first six matches of the rivalry, the Red Bulls have shown the ability to adapt more than NYCFC. City still struggle with the high press of their adversary from across the Hudson River, and their back four continues to be an absolute mess thanks to needless turnovers and poor positioning. 

NYCFC tried to inject more passion into Sunday's game right away to get under the skin of the opposition in order to earn a result, but all that did was motivate the Red Bulls further to achieve three points. 

In the middle of his epic rant that will go down in MLS lore as one of the most entertaining and strange press conferences, Vieira admitted his team didn't show up for the biggest game of the season to date. 

“I think we didn’t defend well as a team," Vieira said. "I think as a team we gave them too much space. I believe that as a club the way we planned to defend, we didn’t respect it.

"It was too easy for them to penetrate centrally and we were sometimes exposed against two players and I believe that from the front players, we didn’t work hard enough to make it more difficult for them." 

Frank Lampard chimed in with a similar response from a player's perspective. 

"Below par," Lampard said. "I think we were off the mark slightly, we didn't defend well enough as a group, I think, from front to back, which meant we were chasing a bit too much and then when we had the ball we weren't as effective as we have been in recent weeks. Simple as that." 

If the problem continues to persist for City into future derby contests, the Red Bulls will continue to have a stranglehold on the record books. Time and time again under Marsch, the team have proved they are up to the challenge of beating their newest and biggest rival. 

The heart and the passion were visible from the first minute on both sides of the pitch, but the final result remained the same. Until NYCFC can fix their issues against the Red Bulls in the derby, the rivalry will not be taken as seriously as the ones in the Pacific Northwest and California. 

One day the New York derby could be the marquee match in MLS every year, but for now, it's just a one-sided rivalry with the winning side reveling in victory and the losing side trying to stay relevant despite poor showings. 


Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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