That just shows these derby games often aren’t about tactics, they’re not about your form. It’s about somebody stepping up. It’s about scrapping for everything. It’s about being desperate, clawing for every inch.

And players can talk about going one game at a time, all that. But let’s be honest: A game or two before a derby, it’s getting mentioned around the training facility. Then you start to see it on social media. I don’t care what footballers say in interviews: You see everything. Fans are trash-talking and you’re starting to think about how you can silence them.

Or maybe the other team’s on a good run and you’re like, ‘Damn, I don’t know if we got it this year. Can we beat them while they’re playing this well?’ All of these things are going through your mind. Even your fans, they’re letting you know you need to win. You might try to avoid it, but you can’t.

And here’s the crux of everything: Derbies need a hero and a villain, somebody who owns the moment. Fans need someone to love and they need someone to hate. It’s bragging rights and three points at all costs.

This year, the Hudson River Derby should get that back. NYCFC are playing well – they’ve got a young, talented squad that’s on the rise. The Red Bull system always gives them a chance and there’s some real quality now, not just the high pressing. Morgan, Forsberg, Rodríguez, even an unexpected star. All the elements are here for the magic to rush back. We’re in for real quality.

And, after the 90 minutes, I know New York will be… drum roll, please… RED!!! Did you really expect me to say anything else?


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