Red Bulls get last-second draw vs. NYCFC

With a chance to effectively kill off a rivals’ playoff hopes Wednesday night, Ronny Deila arrived to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. dressed in all black.

At least for another match, that funeral will have to wait.

After a comfy first three-quarters of the match, NYCFC were eventually undone by a straight red card to midfielder Keaton Parks — the club’s fourth dismissal in five matches — in the 73rd minute. The decision forced the home side to finally impose themselves on the match, and they were thrown a final lifeline when the referee awarded a handball penalty via VAR in the 12th minute of second-half stoppage time.

Patryk Klimala scored from the spot — effectively the last kick of the game — to make the game 1-1, and the Red Bulls went on to rescue a point from their first of two meetings with New York City this week.

“I think we deserve this point,” Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber said after the match. “In the end we find more control … in the end [it] was overload in the brain for New York City.”

Anton Tinnerholm looks to make a move past Red Bull defender John Tolkin.
Stefan Jeremiah

Before Parks’ high challenge, NYCFC looked firmly in control, wholly competent at least within the chippy confines of a derby match. For much of the match, the Red Bulls struggled to create good looks and often opted to play it safe with long balls over the top, while the two best chances of the match — including Taty Castellanos’ first-half goal — fell to New York City.

Despite being introduced as the “visiting” club, NYCFC were evidently comfortable at their second makeshift home, a place where they played host to a match just last week. The visitors seemed braver on the ball for much of the match, and ended the first half strongly after Maxi Moralez set up Castellanos for his 31st minute goal.

The team’s other big chance — a close-range shot by Anton Tinnerholm that was saved just minutes before — left the defender to react with his shirt over his eyes, while his coach Ronny Deila put his head in his hands. His rueful feeling after a missed chance at three points was none too different.

“We did every phase in the game, really really good,” Deila said. “In my opinion it was an almost perfect away game, and we should’ve got the three points.”

“Perfect” wasn’t always aesthetically pleasing to the fans in the stadium, or those watching at home. 44 fouls were called in the match, with 10 total cards doled out through a thorny 90-plus minutes. Though the match became increasingly frantic after Parks was given his marching orders, the second half before that point saw both teams largely cancel each other out, as the Red Bulls changed their shape to match NYCFC’s back three.

Deila called the decision to send Parks off “very, very soft”, but rejected the notion that the team panicked or dropped in level when forced to play a man down.

“I think we adapted really, really well to this situation,” he said.

A second red card on the night, however, (Klimala’s penalty was actually preceded by a second yellow on Maxime Chanot) was too much to overcome.

That equalizer unsurprisingly left the hosts in the more chipper mood after the match, as Struber lauded his young team’s performance and entertained a whimsical question about his apparently lucky red sweater.

The late goal, Klimala’s seventh of the season, gives the Red Bulls a vital point in its quest for a playoff spot, but they remain in 11th-place, eight points below the playoff line, after the draw, with 10 matches left to play.

Deila spoke this week about his goal of shepherding New York City to a second-place East finish (behind the way-ahead Revolution), and his team lost pace in that race Wednesday night as second-place Nashville beat Inter Miami.

Despite the dropped points in New Jersey, though, Deila won’t be hanging his head before Saturday’s rematch in the Bronx.

“We can find mistakes,” he said, “but I’m proud of the team.”