New York City FC’s home debut in the CONCACAF Champions League reportedly won’t be played in New York City.
The club will play its home leg in the Round of 16 against Costa Rican champion AD San Carlos across the river at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, home of the rival Red Bulls, instead of its own home ground of Yankee Stadium, according to San Carlos sporting director Gustavo Perez and multiple media reports.
In an interview with CRHoy.com, Perez said NYCFC was unable to find another venue for the Feb. 26 match.
“They wanted to avoid playing there because of the rivalry they have with the Red Bull,” said Perez via Google Translate. “But in the end they had no choice.”
It’s unclear why the Stadium is unavailable for the contest. NYCFC has not responded to a request for comment.
According to a report by ProSoccerUSA, NYCFC attempted to schedule the match for Belson Stadium at St. John’s, but the proposal was rejected by CONCACAF. The report also says MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, was considered.
NYCFC has called Yankee Stadium home since the team's inception, playing most home games there since 2015 barring scheduling conflicts with the Yankees. The club long has desired building its own ground within the five boroughs, most recently near their current home in the Bronx, but nothing has come to fruition and no plans have been announced.
Red Bull Arena, a soccer-specific stadium built to house its namesake club in 2010, would be the first venue in New Jersey to serve as NYCFC’s home field. It would be the second home venue outside New York, the other being Rentschler Field in Connecticut, which hosted an MLS match in 2017. NYCFC also has played U.S. Open Cup matches at Belson Stadium and Fordham’s Coffey Field in addition to two MLS home matches at Citi Field, which will host four additional league matches in 2020.
City is making its first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League after finishing atop the Eastern Conference in the 2019 MLS regular season. The opening leg will take place on Feb. 20 at San Carlos.