This is what Red Bull Arena looked like at kickoff on Wednesday night. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
New York City FC and Concacaf Friday announced that the team’s Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal home leg against Tigres UANL will be played at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, March 11 at 8 p.m.
NYCFC secured a place in the next round of the tournament with a 6-3 goal aggregate win over Costa Rican team A.D. San Carlos, culminating with a 1-0 win at RBA on Wednesday.
City will play at Tigres in Mexico on Tuesday, March 17 at 10 p.m.
According to a press release, the team had long been operating under the impression that Yankee Stadium would be able to host the quarterfinal round. During the off-season, the stadium underwent extensive pitch renovations, including the excavation of the entire field which resulted in the removal of 100,000 square-feet of sod and 2,000 tons of old soil. Translated: a new field was installed and is being prepped to be playable for the start of the MLS season on March 14. Recent examination of the field resulted in the decision that it was not suitable to host two matches in a four-day span on the new playing surface.
NYCFC has known for some time that Citi Field, home of the Mets, would not be available for the quarterfinals due to winterization and construction. Should NYCFC progress to the semifinals and pending Concacaf approval of the venue, Citi Field is available on April 8 of the leg one date range and on April 28 for the leg one date range of the finals. Yankee Stadium is not available for any other potential SCCL matches due to the Yankees’ schedule.
An announced crowd of 4,396 showed up at RBA, home of the Red Bulls, on Wednesday night, although many observers and media members claimed there were considerably less people in the stadium.
“We understand and appreciate that many of our fans have been, and continue to be, disappointed that we have been forced to now play our first two matches in the SCCL outside of New York City,” NYCFC CEO Brad Sims said in a statement. “I want to again make it clear to our fan base that, until we have our own permanent home in the five boroughs, our intention is to play all of our home matches, in all competitions, at suitable venues within New York City. Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside of our control, we find ourselves again in a situation with no available, Concacaf approved venue inside NYC for the quarterfinal round.
“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of the fans who attended the game on Wednesday evening and supported our team with such passion. Your loyalty is an inspiration for our Club and our First Team players. While again, we recognize the inconvenience, we hope that as many fans as possible can attend the game against Tigres and support the team for such an important knock-out game against a Mexican team that were 2019 SCCL finalists.”
“As the premier soccer venue in the region, we are proud to be selected by Concacaf as a host venue,” said RBA vice president of operations Shaun Oliver when Concacaf matches at Red Bull Arena were first announced. “Our staff is familiar with hosting a variety of third-party events, including Concacaf Champions League. We look forward to providing all of our guests, fans, staff, and players, an excellent soccer experience.”
The South Ward, home of Empire Supporters Club and Viking Army, will not be open for the match, as it was closed on Wednesday as well.
Tigres reached the quarterfinals with a dramatic 5-4 aggregate victory over Alianza FC of El Salvador with a stoppage-time winner from their goalkeeper. The Monterrey-based club lost to city rivals CF Monterrey in the 2019 CCL final series.