Double Derby week.
The New York Derby is always a match you circle on your calendar -- and now fans are being treated to two over the span of four days.
"I think this is a very special, unique week for our chest and also I think it's very interesting what we create this week, I think we need wins, we need points," Head Coach Gerhard Struber said. "We have the big goal to realize, one more time, the playoffs, and I think for our big goal, it's a must have that we also pick up the necessary points."
The Red Bulls will play host to New York City FC on Wednesday, September 22, making up a match that was postponed in August. New York will then travel to Yankee Stadium to face NYCFC on Saturday for their regularly scheduled match.
"I think every single player understands what this week means for us -- and for us it's important that we are ready for a big fight on Wednesday," Struber said.
The Red Bulls are coming off a 4-0 victory on the road over Inter Miami CF and looking to set the tone for the "Double Derby."
"The first big focus is on the Wednesday game we play at home," Struber said. "I think this is up to us that we realize big chances, create chances and score goals. We play at home and we have to win this game."
The Red Bulls have won the last three meetings between the teams at Red Bull Arena, only losing one of the eight all-time home matches against NYCFC (W6 D1 L1).
Bronx-born and Red Bulls Academy product Omir Fernandez, who scored vs. Miami, was amazed by the fan's support through the weather delays at the first attempt to play.
"When we had the derby game at home, that was unfortunately postponed, to see the support even after all the delays was insane for us, coming back onto the field was just something that we didn't expect," Fernandez said. "And for sure, it helped us even through that long delay."
Fernandez is hoping for more of the same on Wednesday -- and even Saturday away.
"When you have your fans like that, supporting and chanting, it's like we have another edge over the team that's there," Fernandez said.
RBNY are looking to get hot at the right time as the season enters the final stretch of games.
"It's always important -- not only our situation, the whole situation -- that every single player realizes his task and realize what this week means for us," Struber said. "I hope that everyone is ready, everyone is sharp like a knife in this game, and show who is the best in the city. It's a big chance, on Wednesday, to show our supporters we are ready to climb the league table, in the right position that we want."
Struber said he hopes his players can show what a fortress Red Bull Arena can be in round one of the New York Derby.
"My big conviction is we have to win on Wednesday," Struber said. "This is our next game. That's it, not more. We have to bring the biggest focus in the next game. And this is New York City in our stadium. And in our stadium, we make the rules."
Two matches in one week is absolutely a unique experience for the players and staff, as none could recall any similar moments from their careers.
"To have two Derby matches back to back just brings so much excitement for us in the locker room," Fernandez said. "These are the two biggest games for us, because we know we all know the rivalry. For me, it's so special to play these games, to be playing on my hometown team, and just having that emotion. Over the years, having that rivalry be a big thing for me, now to be able to play in it is... it's crazy."
But Struber said he can't let the players get ahead of themselves: It has to be one game at a time, and that starts Wednesday at home.
"I will see boys on Wednesday, They are so so hungry to win this game," Struber said. "That's it, not more. And after this game, we prepare the next game, and this is on the weekend in the Yankee Stadium. But before, we have a big task. This is my big focus, not more."