The stunner Omir Fernandez breathes new life into the New York Red Bulls as they climb to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win over New York City FC in the Hudson River Derby
What a difference a week has made for the New York Red Bulls. Unpopular manager Gerhard Struber was replaced by Troy Lesesne, and they beat their two fierce rivals with goals from Omir Fernandez.
A stubborn display of patience, courage and discipline against New York City FC was rewarded in the 76th minute when Fernandez scored his second goal in as many games, firing a sublimely controlled strike past Luis Barraza and igniting the Red Bull Arena.
It’s three points that lift the Red Bulls out of last place in the Eastern Conference and breathe new life into a team that only a week ago looked hopelessly stuck in a rut under Struber.
The Red Bulls had to be patient and didn’t offer too much attack before Fernandez struck, despite it being a derby. But New York City struggled to scare the defense much, either, in a weighty performance.
The aggression and energy that poured out of Red Bull’s south stand was not replicated by the Red Bulls squad during the nerve-wracking opening 20 minutes. Lesesne’s men were playing, perhaps wisely, the game, not the opportunity. Sitting at the bottom of the leaderboard, they will need time to find their way.
Omir Fernandez’s superb strike gave New York Red Bulls a vital win over NYCFC
Fernandez leads the celebrations after his sensational goal broke the deadlock late
Omir Fernandez’s goals against DC United and now NYCFC gave Red Bulls new hope
Passing was consistent, if not a slow touch and the first real noticeable effort came in the 19th minute when Cameron Harper’s low shot ended up in the side netting.
New York City were happy to let the Red Bulls have the ball, inviting pressure from a team lacking in confidence and flair before hitting the counter.
Gabriel Pereira patiently hugged the right wing to try and stretch the game, sometimes standing almost neck and neck with a nervous Lesesne as he guided his team through the first half.
In the 30th minute, Pereira’s patience was almost rewarded. New York absorbed a Red Bulls foray forward and kicked the counter, Pereira darting in from wide as a fourth striker with plenty of space around him.
Talles Magno snuck in from the left and played a clever pass to Pereira whose left-footed shot from 25 yards out looks destined to work its way into the top corner, only to cut the edge of Carlos Coronel’s post. It would have been a stunning goal.
It was soon the occasion for Magno himself to try his luck. Another counter, but this time he resisted the urge to place a teammate and shot himself. It was tame, straight into the hands of Coronel and as much as New York offered the whole game.
In the second half, the Red Bulls gained confidence as they attacked the South Stand. Substitute Winkleman Carmona tried his luck from distance, minutes after coming on as the clock struck 60, but Barraza easily got behind.
Christian Casseres Jr controls the ball under the attention of Matias Pellegrini of NYCFC
Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes attempts to clear the ball with Tayvon Gray looking to block
The Red Bulls enjoyed raucous fan support for the Hudson River Derby
He didn’t have an answer for the decisive strike, however. Andres Reyes scuffed his clearance into Fernandez’s feet and the stadium took a collective breath as he stabilized to shoot.
But instead of unleashing full power, the Bronx-born forward beautifully aimed his shot past Barraza’s reach, almost as if the lack of pace of the shot had finally beaten him.
Early signs are that the 24-year-old is relishing life under Lesesne following his US Open Cup goal against DC United earlier this week. He will surely play a key role as this new Red Bulls squad takes shape in the coming weeks.
From there, New York City went unanswered – even with referee Ted Unkel bizarrely adding nine minutes of stoppage time late in the game, although NYCFC coach Nick Cushing n did not make a single substitution during the whole match.