MLS: Big Apple battle as David Villa’s New York City face rivals Red Bulls
It is the famed Yankee Stadium’s first chance to host a local MLS derby, as New York City welcome New York Red Bulls back to their turf in a star-studded Bronx battle featuring a raft of familiar faces from European football.
New York’s footballing revolution continues after fans voted to light the iconic Liberty Stadium up in City blue ahead of derby day, leaving the Red Bulls trailing, but can they catch-up on the pitch?
The Bulls (6/4 favourites for victory with Coral) will head across the Hudson from New Jersey knowing that a win for their opponents, who have impressively recovered from early poor season form to claw themselves within just three points of their rivals in the Eastern Conference, could draw them level, with a play-off place at stake.
Red Bulls currently sit sixth, and took the spoils in the previous, and first-ever, derby against their noisy new neighbours. In that 2-1 triumph (a result they are 9/1 to repeat) it was Manchester City academy graduate, and former Southampton striker, Bradley Wright-Phillips whose brilliant brace secured the historic victory, and coach Jesse Marsch will be relying on the marksman once again.
The 2014 MLS Golden Boot winner has suffered a dry spell of late, however, last scoring in the derby, and the misfiring forward’s goal misery was compounded by two recent penalty misses.
“We have to be a lot more clinical in both boxes. In the last game we got back to winning ways and we’ve just got to carry on..as a striker, you score and you miss, but it’s how you come back,” said the London-born hitman.
So, the script it set for Wright-Phillips to turn his season around by starring against New York City again, though he may now be reduced to a supporting role behind Cameroonian attacker Anatole Bertrand-Abang, who has hit two in his past three outings.
New York City, meanwhile, are certainly the in-form side, having won three on the bounce, making them 15/8 to take their first derby scalp.
This clash unfortunately comes too soon for former Man City and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, but NYCFC are soon expected to be boosted by the mooted signing of midfield pass-master Andrea Pirlo from Juventus.
For the moment, the two-years young franchise will offer ex-Barcelona and Spain sharpshooter David Villa, currently enjoying a potent purple patch with six strikes in 13 games, and 23-year-old poaching prospect Patrick Mullins. With a perfect mix of experience and exuberance in attack, the hosts are a fantastic 5/1 to notch three or more.
Should New York City take the spoils, or even a draw at 11/5, it will be a statement of how far the relative new boys have come, and perhaps a signal that Jason Kreis’ team can do more than just win hearts and minds in the City That Never Sleeps.
Coral’s betting tip: back New York City, who boast lethal Villa, to extend their fine run of form at 15/8 to win