NYCFC forced out to LA to host CONCACAF Champions League match

NYCFC CONCACAF Champions League
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The calls for a new stadium built solely for NYCFC, the defending MLS Cup champions, are only going to grow louder. 

The team announced on Tuesday that their home match scheduled for Feb. 23 — the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) tilt against Costa Rican club Santos de Guápiles Fútbol Club —  will be played at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, home of LAFC, instead of their home at Yankee Stadium. 

Yankee Stadium and their secondary home, Citi Field, are not CONCACAF-approved venues. Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, home of NYCFC’s arch-rivals, is the only CONCACAF-approved venue in the New York City metropolitan area. However, it is unavailable due to field and stadium renovations.

Because NYCFC will face the Los Angeles Galaxy at nearby Dignity Health Sports Park just four days later to open the 2022 MLS season, the team and CONCACAF settled on LAFC’s home to host the match.

The CONCACAF Champions League is an annual continental tournament that pits the top teams in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean against each other. Teams from the United States qualify for the tournament by winning either the MLS Cup as league champions, the MLS Supporter’s Shield as the team with the most points in the regular season, the other regular-season conference winner, and the winner of the U.S. Open Cup.

This is the second time in NYCFC’s history that they are competing in the CCL as they qualified by defeating the Portland Timbers for the MLS Cup last month.

The winner of the CCL automatically qualifies for the quarterfinal stage of the FIFA Club World Cup.

“This club belongs on the biggest stage possible and although finding home venues for the home legs of any Champions League matches is challenging to us, we are excited to compete against the best teams in North and Central America for another piece of silverware,” NYCFC CEO Brad Sims said. “It is frustrating that this home game will be played on the other side of the country.”

Entering its eighth year of existence, NYCFC has yet to receive a full-time stadium dedicated solely to them. They’ve been stuck for a majority of the time at Yankee Stadium — a venue that naturally provides a poor soccer-viewing experience — while being forced to bend to the will of the Yankees’ schedule.

However, shortly after winning the MLS Cup, New York City Mayor Eric Adams vowed he would once again visit the idea of getting NYCFC its own venue.

“My administration will re-engage in discussions to explore the possibility of siting a new soccer stadium to serve as a permanent home for the team,” Adams said. 

Options include a 25,000-seat stadium in the South Bronx or an arena at Willets Point in Queens right by Citi Field, home of the Mets.