How quickly things change.
Today, Major League Soccer announced “Phase 1” of their return to play. Like Major League Baseball, MLS teams will play in their home markets — without fans — and will not be restricted to a centralized “bubble” like the NBA has or the MLS is Back Tournament before it. Instead, all teams will use their own facilities for the 6-game phase.
Mark your calendar.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 8, 2020
￼ Regular Season Returns August 12!
That is except for New York City FC.
In their official press release, NYCFC has confirmed that they will play all of their Phase 1 home games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The first game will be against — you guessed it — the New York Red Bulls on August 20 in 2020’s first edition of the Hudson River Derby. The Blues will then remain in Jersey for another week and a half as they “host” the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire on August 24 and August 29, respectively. NYCFC will then go on a short road trip to play the New England Revolution on September 2 before travelling to the nation’s capital to play D.C. United on September 6. For the last remaining game of Phase 1, NYCFC return to New Jersey to battle FC Cincinnati.
Here’s the full Phase 1 schedule for NYCFC.
- Thursday, August 20 @ Red Bulls – 7:00 p.m.
- Monday, August 24 vs. Columbus Crew – 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday, August 29 vs. Chicago Fire – 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, September 2 @ New England Revolution – 8:00 p.m.
- Sunday, September 6 @ D.C. United – 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday, September 12 vs. FC Cincinnati – 7:00 p.m.
Just yesterday, we reported that NYCFC had been given permission to use their training grounds as a temporary home should MLS return to play. Safe to say, that didn’t age well. Instead, they will play “home” games in New Jersey much like they did in the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this year.
NYCFC could possibly find themselves back at Yankee Stadium later this season. The press release states the following:
With Yankee Stadium being unavailable due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols that prevent other events in MLB stadiums during the baseball season, NYCFC will play their Phase 1 and Phase 2 home games at Red Bull Arena. NYCFC will have the option to move any home games scheduled after the conclusion of the Yankees’ season to Yankee Stadium. Fans will not be permitted to attend any Phase 1 games at Red Bull Arena. The schedule for Phase 2 of the 2020 regular season will be announced by MLS in the coming weeks.
At the end of the day, I’m not gonna get too mad. In a somber article I wrote back in May, I vowed never to take the luxury of sports for granted again after having to suffer through a cataclysmic world event without them. So for now, I’ll bite my tongue regarding the club’s homelessness and instead just look forward to August 20 and MLS’s official return.