NYCFC to play home leg of CCL in Los Angeles
By Christian Smith
In 2022, New York City FC will embark upon its second-ever berth into the CONCACAF Champions League. The team qualified for the continental competition by winning the MLS Cup and right now, the Pigeons look to be in a position to make it far into the tournament — NYCFC drew Costa Rican side and CCL debutants Santos de Guápiles in the first round of the tournament and are heavily favored.
Unfortunately, a recent development has fans fuming due to the optics.
NYCFC will play their home leg of the CCL in Los Angeles
As announced yesterday, NYCFC will be unable to host its home leg in the CCL against Santos de Guápiles due to Yankee Stadium being ruled as an unfit venue by CONCACAF. Citi Field — where NYCFC will play several home games in 2022 — was also turned down by CONCACAF. Of course, NYCFC then focused on hosting their home leg at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, a venue that has CONCACAF approval and previously played host to NYCFC for both CCL and MLS games in both 2020 and 2021.
Unfortunately for NYCFC, Red Bull Arena is currently under renovation. Therefore, the Bronx Blues will play their home leg in… Los Angeles? That’s right, NYCFC will be “hosting” Santos de Guápiles at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, home to LAFC.
“It is frustrating that this home game will be played on the other side of the country,” said NYCFC CEO Brad Sims in a press release announcing the news. Despite this disappointment, however, Sims said that the move to LA offers NYCFC a chance to avoid too much travel in the leadup to their season opener against the LA Galaxy. “However, with our season opener at LA Galaxy only a few days later and our inability to play at Yankee Stadium or one of our alternative home venues, we felt that this arrangement gave our Club the best possible chance for two positive results that week as we look to do well in CCL and begin the defense of the title.”
Fans, as expected, weren’t too pleased with this news. After all, even if playing in LA is less taxing on New York City in terms of travel, the game will likely be played without many in attendance. One would hope this is a one-off and that, should NYCFC advance, future CCL games will be played in the NYC area at the very least. But, history has shown that you can’t predict anything when it comes to the nomadic NYCFC and their home games.
Hopefully, newly appointed NYC Mayor Eric Adams follows through on his word to have those talks about a future NYCFC Stadium.