Demolition Derbies | Case of the Mondays
Here's who's having the worst #CaseOfTheMondays this morning.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
For the first time ever, the New York Red Bulls lost a Hudson River Derby at home. Goals from Jack Harrison and Ben Sweat — his first in MLS — sunk the Red Bulls 2-0, incidentally the same scoreline as the only other time they’ve lost (last July, at Yankee Stadium). All in all, it was a dominant performance from NYCFC, and the Red Bulls never really looked like getting back into it; in fact, had it not been for a couple of incredible saves from Luis Robles, the scoreline could’ve been even wider.
Blame was put on a lot of people’s heads: head coach Jesse Marsch’s, for being away in Poland for a UEFA training course the entire week leading up to the derby; captain Sacha Kljestan, who’s had a pretty unremarkable season so far, being completely invisible all match; and the midfield, who only managed to get enough service to Bradley Wright-Phillips — who loves a goal against their rivals — for him to touch the ball a measly 31 times. There are still two more chances this year for NYCFC to paint New York blue, one more at Red Bull Arena in the beginning of August and one in the Bronx at the end. Of course, that means there are also two more chances for the Red Bulls to re-paint it red — as they have, 6 other times in their 8 all-time meetings — and they do have the Open Cup derby win from just last week to remember. But NYCFC are third in the east and are strong contenders in the Supporters’ Shield race. A lot can change in a month, but a 7th-place Red Bulls side have a lot of work to do if they don’t want the next matchup to be even bloodier.
Mexico may not have been putting in their most convincing performances this Confederations Cup, but this weekend they did enough to knock hosts Russia out. Russia won just one game — 2-0 in the opening match against New Zealand — and finished third in Group A, four points behind both Mexico and group winners Portugal. Of course, advancing out of a group with Portugal and Mexico was always going to be a difficult task, but this was Russia’s chance to prove that they were ready for the World Cup next year; now, the thinking at home is that they simply will not be. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has a tall order ahead of him — if he isn’t fired before then.
For an impartial viewer, last night’s Cascadia Derby had everything an incredible rivalry match should: intense atmosphere, end-to-end play, incredible goals, and a last-second equalizer. For a Timbers fan, the latter was a dagger in the heart and two dropped points for a team who really need a win. Portland looked like they had turned it around, going up a man and equalizing in the 44th minute as Brad Evans was sent off for a foul in the box and then quickly scoring another, a beautiful header, in first half extra time. In the second half, they had to defend a lead against a 10-man team; it didn’t seem like too tall a task for the 3rd-place team in the West, against the team in 8th. And it wasn’t, until Clint Dempsey was subbed on. Dempsey has scored against the Timbers more than against any other club team, and last night was no exception; a beautiful equalizer at the death, in extra time, made sure the Sounders stole two points from a game that all but looked out of their reach.
Portland are now winless in three, but they are still tied for second in the West (in third on goal difference). And they have one more derby in which to prove themselves left.
The problem with being a good team, but not one of the Big teams, is that a successful run will see your club get picked apart in the next transfer window. Monaco are currently Ligue 1 champions and made a fantastic, somewhat surprising run to the Champions League semifinals. They’ve had a stacked team to help them get there: besides Falcao, Kylian Mbappé, Thomas Lemar, and Tiemoué Bakayoko have all made headlines for their performances throughout the season. The problem? Three of those four are already set to leave. Bakayoko has been linked with Chelsea; Mbappé with Arsenal and Real Madrid; and Lemar with both North London clubs. Monaco have reportedly offered Mbappé the deal of a lifetime in order to get him to stay, but there’s no doubt that the Monaco team that takes the field next season will be a shell of the title-winning side from last year.