That’s what MLS selling broadcast rights to Apple will do: As expected, Apple demanded that the schedule be consistent across teams, and almost all games throughout the league will be held on Saturday or Wednesday at 7:30 pm local time. While that might not be so difficult for most clubs to pull off, the New York City faithful have been waiting to see how NYCFC’s 2023 schedule will play out: The team might have finally announced that it will build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens by 2027, but until then the Pigeons are forced to couch-surf at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, and work around the schedules of the Yankees and the Mets.
Notice that we didn’t say “Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Red Bull Arena.” That’s right, for the first time in years, NYCFC will not suffer the indignity of playing “home” games at the stadium of their arch-rival New Jersey Red Bulls. At least, no games have been scheduled for Red Bull Arena as of yet — two late-season games have yet to be assigned a venue, and the danger of playing in Harrison, NJ, is still very real. In fact, the Red Bulls have away games when NYCFC are scheduled to play Toronto FC on Saturday, September 23, and Chicago Fire on Saturday, October 21. It could very well be that NYCFC play their final home game of the 2023 season at Red Bull Arena.
Still, that’s small beer when compared to the contorted schedules NYCFC fans have had to endure in the past: Three home games within six days in the sweltering August heat, Thursday matches that started at 6 pm ET, home schedules that skipped entire months. There is none of that. Most games are on Saturday, a few are on Wednesday, and just one is on a Sunday. The start time for home games is always 7:30 pm ET (although five games are TBD). This is easily the most rational, sensible, dare we even say attractive schedule NYCFC have ever announced.
We are aware that we wrote much the same thing a little over one year ago, when NYCFC announced the 2022 MLS league schedule. We all know how that turned out: Between the CONCACAF Champions League, and a couple of games moved around because of the MLB lockout, the schedule came apart a little. Still, we weren’t wrong. Compared to previous years, the 2022 season read like the timetable for the Deutsch-Bahn ICE.
The 2023 season improves on 2022, with some caveats. Here are five takeaways.
1. The home opener against Inter Miami could be one of the biggest games of the year, or not
If rumors are to be believed and a certain World Cup-winning GOAT will join Inter Miami before the start of the season, then you can expect a sold-out home opener at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, March 11. Should he join after the Ligue 1 season ends later this summer, then it’ll be just another frosty opening day in the Bronx.
2. NYCFC will ease into the start of the season
The year starts with an away game, as is to be expected for a team based in the chilly northeast, but last year’s crazy travel schedule is a thing of the past: An away game in Nashville, then another in Chicago, before NYCFC plays that home opener against Inter Miami. The first 14 games of the season will be held on sequential Saturdays at 7:30 pm — that means no games played on short rest until May 31
3. There are 9 games at Yankee Stadium, 6 at Citi Field
Compare that to the 2022 regular season, when there were 10 games at Yankee Stadium, four at Citi Field, and three at Red Bull Arena. The gravitational shift to Queens from the Bronx arguably started with the playoff win over Inter Miami in October, and next year NYCFC fans will get even more practice taking the 7 train to Willets Point and what will eventually be the club’s home stadium.
4. Those two TBD venues are troubling
Is Game Day 31, when NYCFC plays Toronto FC on Saturday, September 23, really “to be determined?” Is Brad Sims waiting for the Yankees and the Mets to reply to his email asking if their ballparks are in use? It could be. Or it could be that Red Bull Arena is on deck, but we won’t hear about it until later. It’s a different matter for Game Day 34, when NYCFC play Chicago Fire on Saturday, October 21 — the MLB postseason starts on October 3, and we won't know if one of New York’s baseball soccer stadia will be free until then.
5. There's no brutal run of games
While much can be debated about NYCFC’s late-summer swoon last season, the unforgiving schedule certainly didn’t help the team find their footing: New York City’s 10-game winless streak took place over the course of seven away matches plus two games at Red Bull Arena and one at Citi Field. NYCFC have one run of four consecutive away games, but those are sandwiched between two three-game homestands. Even better, NYCFC have a five-game homestand stretching from August 30 to September 23, and seven of the final 10 games of the season will be at home — although two of those homes are TBD.
MLS League Games
1. NYCFC at Nashville SC, Saturday, February 25, 4:30 pm ET
2. NYCFC at Chicago Fire, Saturday, March 4, 8:30 pm ET
3. NYCFC vs Inter Miami at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, March 11, 7:30 pm ET
4. NYCFC vs DC United at Yankee Stadium, Saturday. March 18, 7:30 pm ET
5. NYCFC at Houston Dynamo, Saturday, March 25, 8:30 pm ET
6. NYCFC at New England Revolution, Saturday, April 1, 7:30 pm ET
7. NYCFC vs Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, April 8, 7:30 pm ET
8. NYCFC vs Nashville SC at Citi Field, Saturday, April 15, 7:30 pm ET
9. NYCFC vs Dallas FC at Citi Field, Saturday April 22, 7:30 pm ET
10. NYCFC at Toronto FC, Saturday, April 29, 7:30 pm ET
11. NYCFC at Charlotte FC, Saturday, May 6, 7:30 pm ET
12. NYCFC at New Jersey Red Bulls, Saturday, May 13, 7:30 pm ET
13. NYCFC at Orlando City SC, Saturday, May 20, 7:30 pm ET
14. NYCFC vs Philadelphia Union at Citi Field, Saturday, May 27, 7:30 pm ET
15. NYCFC vs FC Cincinatti at Yankee Stadium, Wednesday, May 31, 7:30 pm ET
16. NYCFC vs New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, June 3, time TBD
17. NYCFC at Real Salt Lake, Saturday, June 10, 9:30 pm ET
18. NYCFC vs Columbus Crew at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, June 17, time TBD
19. NYCFC at Atlanta United, Wednesday, June 21, 7:30 pm ET
20. NYCFC at Portland Timbers, Saturday, June 24, 10:30 pm ET
21. NYCFC at CF Montréal, Saturday, July 1, 7:30 pm ET
22. NYCFC vs Charlotte FC at Citi Field on Wednesday, July 5, 7:30 pm ET
23. NYCFC at Columbus Crew, Saturday, July 8, 7:30 pm ET
24. NYCFC at Philadelphia Union, Saturday, July 15, 7:30 pm ET
25. NYCFC vs Minnesota United at Citi Field, Sunday, August 20, 7:30 pm ET
26. NYCFC at FC Cincinnati, Saturday, August 26, 7:30 pm ET
27. NYCFC vs CF Montréal at Yankee Stadium, Wednesday, August 30, 7:30 pm ET
28. NYCFC vs Vancouver Whitecaps at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, September 2, time TBD
29. NYCFC vs New Jersey Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, September 16, time TBD
30. NYCFC vs Orlando City SC at Citi Field, Wednesday, September 20, 7:30 pm ET
31. NYCFC vs Toronto FC at venue TBD, Saturday, September 23, 7:30 pm ET
32. NYCFC at Inter Miami, Saturday, September 30, 7:30 pm ET
33. NYCFC at DC United, Saturday, October 7, 7:30 pm ET
34. NYCFC vs Chicago Fire at venue TBD, Saturday, October 21, time TBD