By Michael Lewis
If the Yankees are still alive and kicking in the American League Championship series, New York City FC won’t be playing at its home field at Yankee Stadium.
Instead, NYCFC could host an MLS Eastern Conference playoff game at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y. on either Oct. 23 or 24, the club announced Tuesday.
By winning the conference crown, City clinched a first-round bye.
“We’re extremely proud of the team’s achievement this season and finishing top of the Eastern Conference will provide us with a great platform as we enter our fourth consecutive playoff campaign,” NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a statement. “Should Yankee Stadium be unavailable, we feel extremely comfortable playing our games at Citi Field which has proven to be an excellent alternative venue for the club.”
“We played a pivotal Decision Day game there in 2017 with our fans providing the same electric atmosphere we’re used to at Yankee Stadium and know they will do the same come playoff time.”
In 2017, NYCFC was forced to host a game late in the season at Citi Field, the home of the Mets. The Mets failed to reach the National League playoffs as a wildcard team.
Within a span of a month two years ago, NYCFC was forced to move a home game away from the stadium because of a scheduling conflict with the Yankees. NYCFC switched its Sept. 23 match against the Houston Dynamo to Pratt & Whitney Stadium in Hartford, Conn.
On Oct. 22 at Citi, City played Columbus Crew SC to help the hosts secure the second seed in the conference before a crowd of 20,113.
NYCFC CEO Brad Sims tried to keep an upbeat note when talking about the switch.
“This season has been incredible and we are excited to kick off our playoff campaign,” he said in a statement to the media. “We’re also happy for our partners at the New York Yankees for having a fantastic season, and while we recognize their success could relocate our playoff games and is not ideal for our fans, we’re extremely confident that Citi Field would provide us with the home field advantage needed.
“On behalf of myself and the entire Club I want to thank our fans for their incredible loyalty, passion and support throughout the season.”