NYCFC vs NYRB Preview, MLS Game Predictions, Betting Picks: Stats Suggest Goal Scarcity

Lewis MorganFor New York’s soccer fans, it’s the big one on Saturday (1pm ET). The New York Derby will take place at Yankee Stadium, where NYCFC will host NYRB. With little between them in the standings, both teams will be desperate to pick up three points as they both search for a place in the all-important postseason. Read on for our MLS matchup preview with predictions and betting picks.

New York City FC find themselves in a promising position in the Eastern Conference, yet they probably won’t be too pleased with their recent efforts. Sure, they got the better of Atlas in the Campeones Cup last time out, but domestically, things have gone awry for the men now temporarily lead by former Manchester City Women’s head coach Nick Cushing, who took the reins at Yankee Stadium back in June after the dismissal of Ronny Deila.

Unfortunately, the interim boss hasn’t sparked much of a turnaround in fortunes. In the league, the men in sky blue are without a win in five, four of which they’ve lost. They’ve also won just one of their last ten Major League Soccer fixtures.

As for the visitors, New York Red Bulls, it has been much smoother sailing of late. They were downed by the imperious Philadelphia Union a fortnight ago, but they can be forgiven for losing to the league leaders. They bounced back in timely fashion last time out, winning by two goals to one in front of a home crowd at Red Bull Arena. Gerhard Struber’s men have now won three of their last four league fixtures, which has pushed them to a lofty third place, leaving them four points in front of their rivals.

Problems up top

For NYCFC, it’s rather clear where the issues are, especially at home. The hosts haven’t won any of their last three fixtures on home soil. Why is that? Well, it’s because they’re not doing enough offensively. In those last three home fixtures, they’ve scored just one goal. They’ve also scored just five goals in their last six at Yankee Stadium. That’s not good enough, particularly when the teams that they’re trying to compete against at the top of the Eastern Conference are scoring at a far greater rate.

Defensively, there’s not much of an issue. They can keep teams quiet, having kept three clean sheets in their last five at home, and have only conceded three goals during that time, surrendering healthy xG numbers too. Unfortunately, most of that becomes irrelevant due to their lack of forward quality. After failing to score against either of their last two opponents in front of a home crowd, Cushing’s troops really do need to sharpen their weapons.

RBNY away-day kings

After a minor blip, the Red Bulls are back to being just about the best away-day team in the whole of Major League Soccer. Not only have picked up more traveling points than any other Eastern Conference team this term, but they arrive at this junction having lost none of their last six road fixtures, four of which they’ve won, including their last two.

What have they done well? They’ve limited what their opponents can do offensively, while producing a solid amount themselves. Only three of the last six teams to welcome the Red Bulls into their home have found the net, while Struber’s men have conceded just one goal in their last three on the road.

Red Bulls on top recently

Not only do the Red Bulls currently have the upper hand in terms of league position, but they have also performed better in this fixture in recent times. Yes, NYCFC came out on top when the teams met back in July, winning by a goal to nil, but that was their first win in four against their bitter rivals, who have emerged victorious from three of the last four renewals of this fixture. When the teams last met at this venue, the Red Bulls won by a goal to nil.

Interestingly, there’s been a real lack of end-to-end high scorers in this fixture in recent times. Both teams have scored in none of the last four renewals, three of which have ended with just one goal being scored. Since 2020, the pair have met seven times. Five of those seven games have contained less than three goals, including four of the last five.

Lack of goals appeals

In the betting, there’s one rather glaringly obvious option, and that is of course ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ with the stateside offshore sports betting companies. Everything about the recent efforts of both points towards a lack of goals at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and it also suggests that the -105 available right now is somewhat generous.

What the pair have in common is defensive solidity. The hosts have conceded few goals at home of late, shipping only three in their last five. They’ve also surrendered an average of just 1.04 expected goals per 90 minutes during that time. That tells us that they can keep teams at bay. The visitors are more than capable of doing the same on the road, which is why they come into this game having conceded just once in their last 270 minutes of away-day soccer. In their last five on the road, they have surrendered an average of only 1.00 xG, so do not be surprised if they prevent the hosts from getting serious in the final third.

It is also there for all to see that both teams have lacked options in terms of scorers of late. None of the NYCFC strikers have scored in MLS since Heber notched one four games ago, while Lewis Morgan remains the only player to score regularly for the Red Bulls.

All in all, with five of their last six games combined contained less than three goals, the low-scoring route is the one to take. So for the betting picks and predictions for this NYCFC vs NYRB preview, it is just the one selection:

  • Under 2.5 goals @ best odds of -105 with Bovada. It is -109 with BetOnline.