The MLS weekend concludes with the Hudson River Derby between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC. The betting line on this game is tight with the Red Bulls at +120 and NYCFC at +192. Meanwhile, a draw is set at +266.
The Red Bulls will begin Sunday in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but a win could bring them into third depending on Atlanta’s result. With one win over their last five games, it’s been a tough stretch for the club. They stole a draw with a 93-minute goal last weekend against Atlanta in a game that followed a 4-0 loss to Houston, so they are anxious to take all three points from a game.
Meanwhile, the Blues sit on 29 points, one ahead of their New York rivals and just three points out of second place in the Eastern Conference. The caveat is that NYCFC has at least two games in hand compared to every other team in the conference. They are actually second league-wide in points per game, even if their 12-game league unbeaten streak was snapped by Portland last weekend.
The Big Three
NYCFC is going to be relying on their attacking trio of Maxi Moralez, Valentin Castellanos, and Heber to lead the way in this game. The team’s attacking depth is hurt with Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi out due to injury, so the Blues won’t have as many game-changers coming off the bench. There’s also a little concern with Heber and Castellanos being kept off the score sheet recently. However, Moralez has four goals and two assists in his last four games, so he should be ready to make an impact.
The club will also be excited to have Alexander Callens back from international duty. He could be a little rusty after not playing for Peru during Copa America, but he should help to solidify a defense that has conceded the second-fewest goals in MLS this season, albeit in fewer games than most other teams.
Guess Who’s Back?
For the Red Bulls, this game is all about the return of Bradley Wright-Phillips. After missing more than two months with a groin injury, Wright-Phillips has appeared as a sub in three straight games. More importantly, he got on the score sheet with a huge goal against Atlanta last weekend. Considering that BWP has 12 goals in 12 all-time meetings against NYCFC, he’s likely to get a start on Sunday and provide a spark for a team that has just two players with more than three goals this season.
On the other end of the field, the Red Bulls will welcome back Aaron Long from the Gold Cup, where he was named to the tournament’s Best XI. The Red Bulls have allowed seven goals over their last two games and 14 over their last five games, so they’ve clearly missed Long’s presence, making his return huge for them.
This is one of the fiercest rivalries in MLS, so anything can happen. The Red Bulls should get a lift from Wright-Phillips and Long, not to mention the home fans, but NYCFC is the more reliable team, despite their unbeaten streak ending last week. The Blues won’t lose two in a row, so bet on the Hudson River Derby ending in a draw.