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NYCFC to host playoff game at Red Bull Arena

New York City are forced to play in New Jersey because of postseason schedules of Yankees, Mets.

Hopefully more of a crowd will turn out for the playoffs | Courtesy

Earlier today, New York City FC announced that they will play their “home” game in the first found of the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ on October 15, 16, or 17. New York City’s opponent will be determined after the final games of the season are played on Decision Day this coming Sunday, October 9.

You can read the full statement here.

The venue announcement was news that many fans were dreading, but fully expecting. Both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets are in the MLB Playoffs, which rules out Yankee Stadium and Citi Field at least through October 17. 

Home again, home again

New York City might be playing a “home” game in the eponymous stadium of their most hated rivals, but it’s not a terrible solution to a very real problem. Red Bull Arena is a state-of-the-art venue with covered seating and good sightlines, and it’s just a 20-minute PATH ride away from the World Trade Center. Bonus: The empanadas at Brisas Empanadas are delicious.

Most important, NYCFC proved over the weekend that it can win there as the “home” team. New York City had played poorly in Harrison earlier this year, posting an abysmal 0-1-2 record in games they hosted and a poor 1-1-3 in all competitions, but they got over their Red Bull Arena yips with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over a tough Orlando City. It helped that the announced crowd of more than 13,000 created some atmosphere in the cold and wet stadium. 

If the playoff game sells out, then Red Bull Arena could truly feel like home.

TBA: Opponent, date

New York City’s opponent and game date will be determined on Decision Day. If the current table holds, NYCFC will once again play Orlando in the first round of the playoffs.

But there will likely be movement in the table, and NYCFC could also play FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami, Columbus Crew, or Charlotte FC. The playoff picture will be clearer after Charlotte play Columbus and Miami play Orlando tomorrow night. 

One unlikely but entirely possible scenario have NYCFC hosting the New Jersey Red Bulls — in which case the game will be played at a venue other than Red Bull Arena, according to the statement issued by the club. The smart money is that it will be at Pratt and Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, 115 miles outside of New York — which suddenly makes a home game at Red Bull Arena feel like the Cadillac choice.

The opponent and date will likely be announced shortly after NYCFC play Atlanta United this Sunday at 2:30 pm ET.

Could Yankee Stadium and Citi Field become available for future games?

The short answer: Yes.

Round one of the MLS Cup Playoffs is out of the question at Yankee Stadium because the venue will certainly be in use. The Yankees are set to host Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series on October 11 and 13, play Games 3 and 4 away on October 15 and 16, and return to Yankee Stadium for Game 5 on October 17 if necessary. As Yankee Stadium requires more than 48 hours to convert between soccer and baseball, there is no way to hold the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in the Bronx.

Things aren’t as crystal clear in Queens. The Mets are likely to finish the season in second place in the National League East, and will play a best-of-three Wild Card series on October 7, 8, and 9. If they lose, their season ends — and Citi Field could be available. 

If the Mets advance they will play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 11 and 12, return home to Citi Field on October 14 and 15, and return to Dodger Stadium on October 16 if necessary. 

Should both the Yankees and the Mets advance, then neither Yankee Stadium nor Citi Field will be available for the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal, which will be held on Thursday, October 20, and Friday, October 23. But Red Bull Arena might be free.