Red Bulls Notebook: Rivalries Make the World Go Round

Photo by Matt Kremkau

By JACK BELL

Red Bulls logoAfter spending the early years of his career at Manchester City, Bradley Wright-Phillips did not need to be told which team to dislike. Easy: Manchester United.

In his days in Belgium with Anderlecht, Sacha Kljestan experienced the historical rivalry against Standard Liège.

Major League Soccer has gone to great pains this week, hyping it as Heineken Rivalry Week, even though there are really only four bona-fide rivalry games among the 11 league matches this week. And of course, the Hudson River Derby between the Red Bulls and New York City FC headlines the slate that includes Houston-FC Dallas, D.C. United-Philadelphia, and Portland-Seattle.

But for the Red Bulls’ two veterans, rivalry/derby games are really nothing new.

“To this day I don’t like Man U,” Wright-Phillips said. “But I also knew from their first day that this is my rival. I guess D.C. has always been there for the Red Bulls, but with NYCFC being so close, all the social media, red/blue … everything.

“There’s a bigger feel about this game for me. A full stadium and it’s when you want to score in front of a full house. There’s extra excitement.”

Kljestan, after spending time in MLS, moved to Belgium’s biggest and most successful club.

“But the rivalry against Standard Liège was the biggest historically,” Kljestan said. “We knew when we went there it would be a hostile environment. Either you got scared and played bad, or it made you better.

“For this, after that win last year at Yankee Stadium (7-0) gave us a boost for the rest of the season. We don’t want them to win in our house. It’s a battle of wills. You just never want to lose to your rival.”

Stat Pack

As the old saying goes, people use statistics the way a drunk uses a lamp post … more for support than illumination. So while soccer statistics still bring yawns to thousands, we’ve put together a collection that might be of interest.

¶ Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored 14 goals and 3 assists in the 16 matches he and the Red Bulls have played on Fox and Fox Sports 1. In the last three Fox games, he has scored 6 goals and added an assist, with 4 of the goals scored against NYC FC. Over all, Wright-Phillips is tied for sixth in shots taken (49) and tied for seventh in shots on goal (21). Saturday’s match is scheduled to be carried nationally on the main Fox Network.

¶ The Red Bulls have a 5-1-2 league record at home, outscoring the opposition by 11-6. By contrast, the team is only 2-6-0 away from Red Bull Arena and has been outscored by 6-15.

¶ Midfielder Felipe is the league’s most-fouled player, 54 in 16 games which is eight more than Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro.

¶ In terms of team rankings, the Red Bulls are 18th in goals scored, 11th in assists; tied for 10th in shots and tied for 13th in shots on goal; fourth in fouls committed and first in fouls suffered; and tied for fourth in offside.

¶ The Red Bulls have scored the lion’s share of their goals in the final 15 minutes of each half; 4 at the end of the first half and 5 in the final 15 minutes of games. The team has given up nearly half (10) of its 21 goals in the final 30 minutes of matches, 5 in the final 15.

¶ New York is 6-1-1 when scoring first and 2-6-0 when allowing the game’s first goal. The Red Bulls are 3-0-1 when leading at the half and 2-4 when trailing at the half.

¶ Goalkeeper Luis Robles has stopped 1 of 5 penalty kicks he’s faced this season. The Red Bulls have attempted only one PK in league play, which was converted by Daniel Royer.

¶ With the win last week at Philadelphia, Coach Jesse Marsch is now tied with Hans Backe and Octavio Zambrano with 41 regular-season career wins with the club.

Flemmings With Jamaica

New York Red Bulls II forward Junior Flemmings is with the national team of Jamaica this week as it defends its Caribbean Cup title in Martinque. Jamaica played French Guiana on Thursday while the hosts faced Curaçao, with the winners advancing to Sunday’s final. Flemmings is in his third season with NYRB II and has played at at multiple youth levels for Jamaica, but has yet to earn a cap with the senior team. The Kingston native has four goals in 11 appearances for NYRB II this season. Flemmings has already been named to Jamaica’s provisional roster for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.