Red Bulls, NYCFC go at it one more time this year

It is the final match of the Hudson River Derby this season, and while only one point separates New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference standings, the rivals arrive at Wednesday night's showdown at Yankee Stadium from different directions.

NYCFC (14-6-5) has won just one of its last four games and is coming off a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium. The Red Bulls (15-6-3) have lost just one of their last seven games after rallying for a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at BC Place.

While the Red Bulls appear to get stronger as the game goes on -- with midfielder Daniel Royer scoring the 90th-minute equalizer in Vancouver -- NYCFC has struggled after halftime in the last few games.

"They have energy because they were able to draw the game in the last minute," NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said of the Red Bulls after training Monday. "That means they have energy right now and they believe in themselves. That is in the end the most important thing. But I believe in my team because they convinced me in the first 6-7 games they are able to (beat) any opponent."

The win in Vancouver was the first of five matches in a 15-day span for the Red Bulls, who are three points behind Atlanta United in the Supporters' Shield standings.

It might not have been ideal to travel coast to coast ahead of a midweek game against NYCFC, but the result was pleasing for Red Bulls coach Chris Armas, especially after fullback Michael Murillo was sent off for his second bookable offense six minutes before Royer struck for his second goal of the game.

"We're always thinking about the big picture and trying to size up what's ahead while having an eye on one game at a time," Armas said after the game. "To come to Vancouver and start our tough stretch with a hard-fought point, down a man the way we did it, I thought it was a great way to kick things off here."

Murillo will be missed while serving a suspension, but it's NYCFC that will especially be short-handed for this critical match. In the loss at Philadelphia, defender Alex Callens (knee) and midfielder Jesus Medina (hamstring) went down with injuries that rule them out Wednesday night, and the versatile Ronald Matarrita was sent off deep into second-half stoppage time and will also serve a one-game ban.

The Red Bulls won the first regular-season matchup this season, racing out to a 2-0 lead after four minutes en route to a 4-0 blowout on May 5 at Red Bull Arena. NYCFC exacted their revenge last month with a 1-0 win at Yankee Stadium. They showed the intensity that has been lacking in the last few matches.

Although NYCFC has struggled on the road -- 4-6-3 this season -- it is the last team left in MLS to remain unbeaten at home with a 10-0-2 record.

"Everybody knows right now we have a problem in the second half," Torrent said. "We have to find the solution about that because we lose a little bit of intensity. I watched, for example the last game against Red Bulls and we were able to win 70-80 percent of the duels. If we will try to win MLS, we have to improve at least in the intensity."

Updated August 20, 2018

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