For the first time in the three-year history of the Hudson River Derby, both New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls will play for a chance to advance in the U.S. Open Cup (8 p.m. ET, YouTube).
Here’s what to watch for Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.
The NYCFC-Red Bulls matchups are always more than just another match. They’re two clubs and club cultures that hate each other. So far, the Red Bulls have owned NYCFC, winning five of six matches.
The Red Bulls have have only made it to the quarterfinals of the USOC just three times since 2006. There’s a lot more at stake for NYCFC. A win would be their first in USOC play and would be much sweeter against the Red Bulls. NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira knows how difficult the challenge ahead is this time.
“Against the Cosmos [in 2016], most people were expecting us to win the game, and we didn’t,” he said. “I think this year we are going to take it in a different way.”
Most MLS teams don’t play their starters in the early rounds, especially considering they usually face lower-tier teams. Despite both teams playing on the same level, neither may still play all of their starters since both clubs have MLS matches on Saturday.
Wednesday could be a good test of the depth of both sides.
The 2016 Red Bulls ended their campaign empty handed, falling in the Round of 16 in the USOC last year and got knocked out of the MLS playoffs early. It was a stark contrast to a 2015 campaign where they lifted the Supporters’ Shield and came a header off of the post away from a potential MLS Cup Final berth.
A win for NYCFC could mark the first true step toward a shot at hardware. The Blues had a nightmare playoff debut last year, ending their quest for their first trophy before it even got started.