New York City FC: Poor refereeing leads to draw in Hudson River Derby

New York City FC should have won the first Hudson River Derby, but poor refereeing led to the draw


Back on August 21, New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls were set to face one another for the first time in 2021.  However, the combining of a storm system and Hurricane Henri caused lightning storms and torrential rain, and ultimately after a long delay, the match was postponed.  Now, a month later, the Pigeons finally had the opportunity to face their main rival.

In the past, the Hudson River Derby has been entertaining and crazy.  For NYCFC, some of the most thrilling games include the nine-man draw back in 2018, and then the 5-2 win from just last season, where Valentín Castellanos scored a hat-trick.

This time, thanks to the postponement, NYCFC and the Red Bulls will face each other twice in one week for the first time.  The first game was played on Wednesday evening, and the two sides saw the game end in a 1-1 draw.  Poor refereeing by Ismail Elfath led to controversial decisions, which determinately led to the final score.

At first, the usually exciting Hudson River Derby fixture started off slowly for NYCFC.  They were a tad messy, and the Red Bulls had a few chances in the first 25 minutes.  Sean Johnson kept the match at bay by making two critical saves in that timespan, including a quick reaction save against a hard-hit strike from Wikelman Carmona.

But, as the minutes ticked on, the Pigeons started to dictate the pace of play, and increased their opportunities in the attack.  Then finally, in the 31st minute, the deadlock was broken.  Once again, the Argentine connection came into play, and Maxi Moralez pushed the ball into the path of Castellanos.  The striker, who had made a strong run into the box, took one look at goal, and shot the ball into the right corner, putting NYCFC in front.

As the match went on, New York City FC continued to control the game, and led in possession and attacking opportunities.  But that all changed in the second half when Elfath decided to become the star of the derby.

Terrible refereeing changed the match

For a while, New York City FC looked like they were on the road to a comfortable win against the New York Red Bulls.  But then, everything changed in the 73rd minute.  Keaton Parks went to tackle the ball away from Dru Yearwood, and ended up tackling him to the ground.  Immediately, a red card was shown, and Parks was sent off.

When looking at the foul, it was clear the foul was a foul.  It could have even been a yellow card, for Parks did make contact at the end.  Yet, when both the commentators on MSG, the network for the Red Bulls, and then the commentators on YES, the network for NYCFC, are all puzzled to how that was a red card, then clearly the wrong decision was made.  Parks did not intentionally go for the legs, and at first his studs were down.  There was some drag, and as both players fell, he kicked the higher part of Yearwood’s legs.  Alas, due to gravity and the laws of physics, there was nothing Parks could do.  He made contact, hence why a yellow would be warranted, but a straight red made no sense.  Ronny Deila himself called the call “very soft“.

Afterwards, the Red Bulls began to have more chances in the attack.  They definitively became more of a stronger opponent, but NYCFC held their own, and were still able to compete despite being down a man.  But Elfath could not manage the game, and the match became even more heated.  Four yellow cards were handed out between both teams following the red card, and then numerous fouls were called as well.

The referee could not get a handle on the game, and then he took control of the score.  Admittedly, this could be argued, but in the final minutes of stoppage time, Elfath awarded the Red Bulls a penalty kick.  This was controversial because the ball hit Maxime Chanot on the chest before bouncing off his arm, which was near his body.  After watching the replays, it looked like Chanot was in a natural position.  That ball was also kicked very close to him, so the defender did not have much time to react.  At the same time, the rules regarding penalties are still very grey, and because it hit the arm, that may be why it was given.

Unfortunately, this meant Chanot would receive a second yellow card, thus resulting in a red card.  That was also the fifth yellow since the first red from Parks.  Then, in the 102nd minute, Patryk Klimala scored on the penalty kick, and led the Red Bulls to the draw against NYCFC.

Although the decision is arguable, other referees might have not called the penalty.  But Elfath was in the middle of a heated derby, and his emotions probably aided in the call.  Still, Chanot looked to be standing in a natural position, in which in that case, it should have not been called.  The choices by this referee ultimately changed the course of the game, as well as his poor management.

Nonetheless, New York City FC got the road point.  Sometimes poor refereeing can decide the results, and there is nothing the Bronx side can do.  Instead, the team will hopefully get Parks’ red card overturned, and rather than missing him and Chanot on Saturday, it will just be the center-back.  No matter what happens, the Pigeons now have this anger inside them, which will hopefully lead to a big win against the Red Bulls in just a few days.