FROM 2014: Yankee Stadium is not ready for MLS
But at Yankee Stadium, it’s near impossible for a team to play good soccer. For NYCFC to be successful, they need space. To play from defense, for the likes of Andrea Pirlo to operate successfully, and for this team to build its style, they need clean conditions.
Yankee Stadium doesn’t provide it to them. The field is tiny. The surface is terrible.
Signs that Yankee Stadium was going to a problem – competitively, not just aesthetically – arrived almost immediately last year. In their second-ever home game, NYCFC was beaten by Sporting Kansas City on a long throw in an ugly, frustrating game.
The club’s stadium situation has always been an embarrassment for MLS – the result of pushing NYCFC into action before the club was ready, a mistake that the league has been sure not to repeat with David Beckham’s Miami – but now it’s costing its tenant more than ever before.
Perhaps you blame NYCFC for constructing a roster obviously not suited to win at home. Outside of the likes of Pirlo, and eventually Lampard, the club’s move to get Jack Harrison in the SuperDraft was made without regard to the Stadium’s constraints.
But it’s hard to be upset with Vieira for trying to play good soccer. On the road, NYCFC’s style is plenty admirable.
And if the club’s home form this season matched their road form, they’d be winning the Eastern Conference even after the meltdown against the Red Bulls.
Vieira’s first season of professional coaching has been filled with challenges. This is one of the biggest and most frustrating – can he get his team to play down to its home field?
This is a long-term problem. The club has, at various points, intended to build a stadium in Flushing and then in the Bronx. But neither proposal got off the ground. At the moment, there the club has no stadium plan whatsoever.
Remember – a decade ago it was the Red Bulls trying to build an urban stadium, realizing that it wasn’t going to happen, and moving to Harrison, New Jersey.
The bottom line is that NYCFC will most likely be playing at Yankee Stadium well into the next decade. At some point, depending on how results go the rest of the season, the likes of Claudio Reyna and Vieira are going to have to grapple with how to build a winner for their arena.