New York City FC’s big 1-0 win over AD San Carlos in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 — a victory which put their aggregate scoreline to 6-3 — officially puts them into the quarterfinals of the tournament, where they will face possibly the toughest team left in the competition: Tigres UANL.
The victory should’ve felt triumphant. Instead, it felt lackluster. Not because of NYCFC’s performance on the field. But because of what (or whose) field that was, as well as the minuscule amount of people in attendance at Red Bull Arena.
A lot of this was due to many of City’s supporters’ groups choosing to boycott the “home” fixture in response to NYCFC’s lack of communication in regards to where they will be hosting their CCL fixtures and the ongoing search for a soccer-specific stadium in the Five Boroughs. This caused a rift that saw only a few thousand supporters make the trip to New Jersey to see New York City dispatch of San Carlos.
Earlier today, however, The Third Rail — as of last week, the team’s only official SG — released a statement, letting the public know that they would not boycott the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals — NYCFC’s home leg — on March 11, once again at Red Bull Arena.
The ultimate goal of The Third Rail is to support #NYCFC players, week in and week out. While playing at RBA is far from ideal, we're encouraged by the efforts of NYCFC to openly discuss this situation.— The Third Rail (@ThirdRailSC) February 28, 2020
The Third Rail will return to RBA on 3/11⚡️
Full statement in image below. pic.twitter.com/vDg2OuTUla
The statement reads as follows:
“Over the past several weeks, New York City FC club [sic] has worked closely with the Third Rail to address many of our concerns about playing a ‘home’ match at Red Bull Arena and the lack of information regarding our ongoing search for a permanent stadium.
“Since our 2/8 statement protesting the ‘home’ match at RBA and our 2/26 boycott of the NYCFC CONCACAF Champions League match, NYCFC has provided supporters with greater details on the CONCACAF Champions League stadium approval process, new disclosures on our stadium search, and has worked to make RBA more welcoming to NYCFC supporters. We appreciate the recognition of these issues from NYCFC and their efforts to resolve them. We feel that CONCACAF’s Champions League venue approval process is onerous and unnecessary, and narrowed the options of NYCFC to playing at RBA, forfeiting the match, or playing in another city altogether. We appreciate the additional disclosures around NYCFC’s ongoing stadium search, although brief and belated, and we will continue to vigilantly monitor its progress. Lastly, we appreciate the efforts of NYCFC to make this upcoming RBA “home” match more hospitable for NYCFC supporters, including the addition of a supporters section, drums, flags, banners, and a later start time.
“The ultimate goal of the Third Rail is to support NYCFC players, week in and week out. While playing at RBA is far from ideal and many questions regarding the future home of NYCFC remain, we’re encouraged by the efforts of NYCFC to openly discuss and improve this situation in a meaningful way. The Third Rail will return to RBA on 3/11, loud and energized, to support our team. We encourage all NYCFC fans to join us.”
An interesting thing I noticed from the statement is that, unlike the previous statement which called for a boycott, this one only has the Third Rail signature and is lacking endorsements from New York City SC (who recently lost their official SG status), Los Templados 12, NYC12, Bronx Football Social Club, and Minervas. This leads me to believe that maybe other SG’s don’t share Third Rail’s optimism when it comes to NYCFC’s current relations between club and supporters. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there was some acrimony between some SG’s and the club regarding NYCSC losing its official status.
Regardless, at least one supporter’s group will be in the house come March 11.