There are few things better than winning a Derby in the opposing team’s stadium.
“In the end, a big win,” Head Coach Gerhard Struber said. “I feel a big relief right now.”
The Red Bulls rode Omir Fernandez’s lone goal to three points against their rivals, NYCFC, on Saturday night.
“We have so much control, not in every second, but in most of the time and our pressing, our triggers, and our synchronized moments,” Struber said. “I can feel in many moments that the determination, the desire come back, and in the end, I think we deserve the win. Absolutely, it is a big win, it is a big feeling, and to win away against a team on this level.”
Fernandez, a Bronx native, broke through late in the first half, collecting a perfectly-placed pass from Kyle Duncan and putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I described it to the guys like I see everything just happen at once, like all this joy, come to me,” Fernandez said. “It is like I have not scored yet, but I feel like I have scored already, and you know exactly like the Miami game when I saw the ball just there, it was kind of that same feeling. I did not think about anything else besides celebrating with my team, obviously.”
The 22-year-old Red Bulls Academy product Fernandez said scoring in Yankee Stadium, just minutes from his home, meant so much to him and to his family.
“A lot of emotion, a lot of emotion ... too many to process,” Fernandez said. “You know that time goes by so quick, and you know for me, it is like slow motion. I’m just trying to process what just happened, trying to celebrate, trying to catch my breath, and trying to do my job on the field. It was like so many emotions that at that time I cannot process, after I went into halftime, I started processing everything that kind of happened to me. It was special for me you know to score here, in front of my parents. They probably drove 10 minutes from the house, so it was something meaningful for me to score and celebrate right in front of them.”
Struber said the team worked on finding spaces on the smaller pitch at Yankee Stadium, and knew they had to execute everything in the matchplan to earn the win.
“My boys always try to find spaces, they find synchronized moments, but today, yes, we are sharp like a knife, and I think they feel that from the first second,” Struber said. “In the end, a big team win, a big togetherness, a big willingness from the first second and I think this was again too much for New York City FC.”
Fernandez has scored twice in his last three matches, said the trust Struber has in him has helped him bring his game to the next level.
“He is taking my game into an up level, obviously, I have a lot of trust in him and I’m happy he has trusted me, so I think maybe my ability has improved a little bit,” Fernandez said. “I think the main thing has been my confidence to be in those positions, to trust myself in those moments because I feel like I know those moments and I know how to feel them and, you know, score goals, so I am just happy he has that confidence in me for sure.”
Duncan, a Brooklyn native, said the team knows the team has an uphill battle in front of them.
“We are definitely happy, you know, to go out and win the Derby,” Duncan said. “It makes the fans happy, but we are in a bad spot right now and we are trying to get into a playoff spot, so we have to win every game that we can right now.”
Duncan also has said Struber’s belief in him has helped expand his game.
“He has definitely urged me to get forward and also you know, press the outside back just to cut off that pass on the inside and force them outside,” Duncan said. “He has also urged me on to take on the outside back a lot with my speed and technical ability. He says I can beat anyone, so just have confidence in myself. I think he has really helped that part of my game.”
Nine games remain for New York in the regular season and every game is more important than the last.
“We know that the few games that we have coming up are important ones and they are also the teams that are in front of us,” Duncan said. “We know if we beat these teams, we will get back into that seventh spot or maybe even sixth spot or fifth spot. It is really important to us right now.”