Keys to the Match
New York City FC return from the international break with a Hudson River Derby meeting against Red Bulls.
Here's the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford...
Strong Foot Forward
This is it.
The 2021 Major League Soccer Regular Season is approaching it's climactic scene, and the race for playoff places are hotting up.
New York City FC can decide their own fate with six games remaining, starting with a Hudson River Derby clash on Sunday. This game needs no greater incentive than local pride, but the fact the Red Bulls have put together a solid run of form lately means they have a chance of sneaking above the line and participating in the post-season.
Just five points separate Orlando City SC in fourth and Red Bulls in ninth, meaning every point matters. When NYCFC last faced Red Bulls on the road they emerged with a strong performance. This is an opportunity to secure the victory that night deserved, and also give themselves a sizable shot of momentum heading into the five games remaining.
Control The Tempo
What makes a derby game special is the unique set of circumstances it produces.
Form can become inconsequential, as the 90 minutes of action takes center stage. Momentum can ebb and flow, as nerves jangle both in the stands and on the field.
Establishing control in a derby game can be a difficult task, and more than other games, it can be about first building a momentum that gives you the confidence to fashion a rhythm. NYCFC thrive when being able to control the tempo. During their last derby game at Red Bull Arena their best period came with them controlling the ball.
It will be important they do something similar on Sunday, and part of that will be setting a foundation. That means winning tackles, connecting passes. Focus on those early exchanges, and nothing else, and a platform of success may emerge.
Although we've discussed the pressure and intensity of these fixtures, we must never lose sight of the joy this game provides.
The game's beauty presents itself in the shared passion, and while the 90 minutes of action will see battle lines drawn, we should always enjoy these types of special occasions.
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