On Wednesday, the New York Red Bulls face off against New York City FC for the second year in a row in the fourth round of the 2018 U.S Open Cup. The roster restrictions that are placed on both managers, Jesse Marsch and Patrick Vieira, add a spice to an already saucy tie.
On June 14th, 2017, the New York Red Bulls hosted and beat New York City FC 1-0 in the fourth round of the U.S Open Cup. Daniel Royer scored in the 67th minute, securing the win and beginning their run to the 2017 U.S Open Cup final.
The Red Bulls followed up their opening-round win by beating Philadelphia, New England and FC Cincinnati. However, at the end of it all, Sporting Kansas beat the Red Bulls 2-1 at Children’s Mercy Park and added the club’s fourth Lamar Hunt trophy. This year, they begin their U.S. Open Cup endeavours on Wednesday night, again facing New York City FC.
Winning the U.S Open Cup remains a priority, but this year it falls in between a difficult stretch where the Red Bulls will play three games in eight days. Meanwhile, Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar were named to Panama’s 23-man World Cup roster and the two will represent the country in their first ever tournament appearance.
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To make matters worse, The Red Bulls are without three players who comprise the backbone of the team: Tim Parker, Tyler Adams and Kaku. Parker and Adams are away with the U.S Men’s National Team as they finish their two-game call-up against France this Saturday, while Kaku is with the Paraguay National Team ahead of a friendly against Japan. He will receive his first cap with Paraguay following a one-time switch from Argentina.
The U.S Open Cup rules allow for no more than five foreign players in a professional team’s 18-man squad. The rule will affect NYCFC more than the Red Bulls, but nonetheless proves a challenge with integral pieces unavailable.
In the Red Bulls’ 2-1 loss to New England, Daniel Royer did not get the start but replaced Derrick Etienne in the 63rd minute. With a brief rest, Royer may see a large role Wednesday night as one of the five international players.
Homegrown players like Derrick Etienne Jr and Alex Muyl, who have contributed from off the bench, could see play in an Open Cup run. Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, and Marc Rzatkowski are options all thanks to a starting defense with no internationals. Before Open Cup play started, Aurelien Collin and Kemar Lawrence obtained green cards, giving Jesse Marsch experienced alternatives at different positions.
On the other hand side of the river, NYCFC’s international-heavy roster could prove a problem once again. In their first three years, NYCFC was unable to advance past the fourth round of the U.S Open Cup. Patrick Vieira rested David Villa for the first 65 minutes against Orlando and will likely use one of his five foreign spots on El Guaje. But while Vieira is busy choosing his lineup, he will need to think about how to manage the game.
Internationals Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace are going to Russia with Costa Rica, and NYCFC may have to start Ben Sweat, Sebastien Ibeagha and Maxime Chanot and Anton Tinnerholm if they play a four at the back. Midfielder Tommy McNamara played in a 3-0 win against Orlando and the New York native could feature in a midfield alongside internationals, Maxi Moralez and Alexander Ring.
With Villa and Medina in the attack, Akron graduate, Jonathan Lewis becomes a viable option. Filling the void on the bench is a problem Vieira can’t amend at this point.
After NYCFC’s 3-0 win against Orlando, Vieira looked forward to the game on Wednesday:
When you win at home, I think it builds your confidence, we have to start working on the game against the Red Bulls tomorrow and we are going to give ourselves the best chance to win it, but obviously it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be difficult, but we will be up for it.
With a tight schedule and players away on international duty, the fixture will mix an elimination game with a derby match with roster restrictions that neither manager will be happy with, all rolled into one atmospheric and entertaining tilt. Once again, the New York Red Bulls against New York City FC is set to be a fascinating affair.