Omir Fernandez stunner breathes new life into New York Red Bulls by beating NYCFC
What a difference a week has made for New York Red Bulls. Unpopular coach Gerhard Struber has been replaced by Troy Lesesne, and they’ve beaten their two fierce rivals with goals from Omir Fernandez.
A stubborn performance of patience, grit and discipline against New York City FC was rewarded in the 76th minute when Fernandez struck for his second goal in as many games, firing a sublimely controlled strike beyond Luis Barraza and igniting the Red Bull Arena.
It’s three points that lifts Red Bulls up out of last place in the Eastern Conference and breathes new life into a team that only a week ago, looked desperately stuck in a rut under Struber.
The Red Bulls had to play patient and didn’t offer too much in attack before Fernandez struck, despite this being a derby. But New York City struggled to frighten the defense much, either, in a ponderous performance.
‘Omir is from the Bronx, these games mean a little bit more to him,’ a jubilant Lesesne said after the game. ‘I think he is undervalued in a lot of ways, almost like an underdog. But I don’t undervalue him, I think he can do big things. He’s got a lot of potential and I hope to see more of those moments.’
Omir Fernandez’s stunning strike gave New York Red Bulls a vital win against NYCFC
Fernandez leads the celebrations after his sensational goal broke the deadlock late on
Omir Fernandez’s goals against DC United and now NYCFC have given new hope to Red Bulls
The early signs are the 24-year-old is relishing life under Lesesne, building on his US Open Cup goal against DC United in the week. He will surely go on to have a key role as this new Red Bulls team takes shape in the coming weeks.
‘It means a lot to me, I talk about these games with my friends and my family all the time,’ Rodriguez said. ‘So to get a goal and be the difference was really cool.
‘I think Troy has his own ideas and we are behind them. With the little time we have been with him, we are trying to implement his ideas and you can see them a little bit on the field. With more time, we are going to get better. He brings his own energy, he is trying to rally us up.’
And on Saturday night, the Red Bulls fans were trying to do that as well.
The aggression and energy pouring out of the south stand wasn’t replicated by the Red Bulls team in a nervy first 20 minutes but Lesesne’s men were, perhaps wisely, playing the game, not the occasion. Sat at the bottom of the standings, they would need time to find their way.
Passing was steady, if not a touch on the slow side and the first real effort of note came in the 19th minute when Cameron Harper’s low shot bundled into the side netting.
New York City were happy to let the Red Bulls have the ball, inviting the pressure from a team lacking in confidence and flair before hitting on the counter.
Gabriel Pereira was patiently hugging the right wing to try and stretch the play, at times nearly standing shoulder to shoulder with an antsy Lesesne as he guided his team through the first half.
In the 30th minute, Pereira’s patience was nearly rewarded. New York soaked up a Red Bulls foray forward and sprung the counter, Pereira darting in from out wide as a fourth attacker with plenty of space around him.
Talles Magno weaved in from the left and played a smart pass across to Pereira whose inswinging, left-footed strike from 25 yards look destined to find its way into the top corner, only to clip the edge of Carlos Coronel’s post. It would have been a stunning goal.
It was soon Magno’s chance himself to try his luck. Another counter but this time he resisted the urge to set a teammate up and took the shot himself. It was tame, straight into the hands of Coronel and as much as New York offered going forward all game.
In the second half, the Red Bulls grew in confidence as they attacked the South Stand. Substitute Winkleman Carmona tried his luck from range, minutes after coming on as the clock struck 60, but Barraza got himself behind it easily.
Christian Casseres Jr controls the ball under close attention from NYCFC’s Matias Pellegrini
Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes tries to clear the ball with Tayvon Grey looking to block
The Red Bulls walked out to a rowdy backing from their fans for the Hudson River derby
He had no answer for the decisive strike though. Andres Reyes scuffed his clearance into the feet of Fernandez and the stadium took a collective breath as he steadied himself to shoot.
But instead of unleashing a shot with full power, the Bronx-born attacker steered his shot beautifully past Barraza’s reach, almost as if the lack of pace on the strike beat him in the end.
From there, New York City had no answer – even with referee Ted Unkel bizarrely adding nine minutes of stoppage time on at the end, despite NYCFC coach Nick Cushing not making a single substitution all game.