The 2018 edition of the New York Derby kicks off on Saturday at Red Bull Arena, with New York City FC paying a visit to Red Bull Arena for a 2 p.m. kickoff.
The entire New York Red Bulls has had these games in mind since the schedule came out, according to Head Coach Jesse Marsch.
"We always circle this on the calendar, when we know we have the Derby matches," Marsch said. "Here we are, in the fourth installment of the first part of the series, and I think it’s set up to be one of the best ones yet. I think NYC is a very good team, they will challenge a lot of the things that we do. It will be a scrappy game at times, because they are not just focused on with ball as much as they were, as they work hard against the ball, so it is a great combination for them to have and they have been very effective so far this season and it’s a chance for us to see exactly where we are at this point of the season and I feel like our team is in a good way and will be ready for a big game."
The Red Bulls have had the upper hand through the New York Derby, holding a 5-3-1 record over the blue side. The Red Bulls also have the lone Open Cup victory from between the two clubs.
But this matchup might be a little different.
"I think it sets up to be a different kind of challenge where we can’t just think about only the press, but also when we have the ball what will they try to achieve and how can they hurt us while we have the ball," Marsch said. "We’ll have to be smart with that, we’ll have to be sharp, we’ll have to be clear."
NYCFC comes into the match at the top of the Eastern Conference with the Red Bulls coming off three road points against the LA Galaxy.
"I think, obviously, they are having a great season and I think we are on a high as well after our win at LA," Aaron Long said. "Very tough game, very tough team, very good attacking group. I feel like this will be similar to LA."
Marsch is expecting a battle on Saturday.
"I think it’s also a game that going to set up to be a battle in the midfield, a lot of little fifty-fifty balls, tackles, moments that lead to picking up a ball and going into transition," Marsch said. "Obviously, the more we can put Bradley Wright-Phillips on transition, the less we can have David Villa going into transition, then that is a good recipe for us, so that will be a big part of the day."
Wright-Phillips has scored 10 times in nine MLS matches against the crosstown rival, adding one assist as well.
"The Derby, it’s been good to me," Wright-Phillips said. "It’s gone well for me. I enjoy playing in the games."
Wright-Phillips dominance is no surprise to Marsch.
"What’s so amazing about Brad is he’s no secret," Marsch said. "Every game that we play, a team has a defensive scheme and emphasis of trying to take care of him and yet he scores all the time. I’m sure they will want to be hard on him and physical on him, but the key is for the rest of the team to be really clear, tactically sharp and good on moments of transition, because the more that we have weapons and other weapons it means that Brad will be open more as well."
And BWP knows it goes beyond one player to make or break your club.
"You can’t just rely on one player, and I think our team epitomizes that," Wright-Phillips said.
Long, looking to keep Villa and his teammates off the board, might be expecting a handful of goals between the clubs this time around.
"They are scoring a lot of goals, it is going to be tough, but so are we," Long said. "I think it is going to be a clash of two titans, in a way, so we will see who comes out on top."