By Michael Lewis
And in the latest New York sports result, it’s baseball 1, soccer 0.
In what has to be considered an embarrassing moment for Major League Soccer and New York City FC, the team’s 3 p.m. Sept. 23 home match against the Houston Dynamo at Yankee Stadium has been moved to Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., it was announced Tuesday afternoon.
It could very well be the first time an MLS team has been forced out of its stadium for a game in its 22-year history.
The Yankees were forced to reschedule a rained-out game from May 25 against the Kansas City Royals Sept. 25, NYCFC said. Since the grounds crew needs three days to prepare the field to make it safe for baseball players, NYCFC’s Saturday, Sept. 23 match was moved (the Yankees are scheduled to play at the Toronto Blue Jays that Saturday afternoon).
According to NYCFC, an extensive search took place with Pratt & Whitney Stadium being picked as the best option.
According to a league source, all stadiums in the New York metropolitan area were considered, including MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. and Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (the Red Bulls are on the road at Columbus Crew SC that night). It was not immediately known why they had not been used.
“We have worked very closely with Houston and MLS to find an alternative venue prioritizing our supporters and sporting department,” NYCFC president Jon Patricof said in a statement. “While we understand this will be an inconvenience for some, we are confident we have put together an excellent variety of ticketing and transportation options for our fans.
“The club would like to thank Pratt & Whitney Stadium for hosting us at what we know will be a fantastic and memorable game.”
The stadium has hosted several national team games for the men and women. The most recent came when the U.S. men recorded a 2-1 win over Ghana 2-1 in front of 28,754 fans July 1, prior to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“Pratt & Whitney Stadium is a great venue for us due to its wonderful playing surface and facilities,” NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a statement.
“Hartford is a great soccer city which has hosted many important international games – I played there in a couple of games for the National Team many years ago – and it was always a wonderful place to play with a fantastic atmosphere and environment.
“We’re looking forward to playing there and having our fans come out and support the team in Hartford.”
MLS had no immediate comment.
This decision has ramifications for later on this year.
If the Yankees reach the World Series and play deep into October, this could force the MLS club to move a game or two.
NYCFC is scheduled to play Columbus at the stadium in its regular-season finale Sunday, Oct. 22. City also could wind up playing a mid-week wildcard match Wednesday, Oct. 25. The Eastern Conference semifinals are scheduled to begin on the weekend of Friday, Oct. 27.
In its third season as an expansion team, City is the only MLS club that plays in a baseball stadium.
The Cosmos of the North American Soccer League call MCU Park in Coney Island, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, its venue.