NYC Soccer FAQ: 11 Burning Questions

Andrew Rosenberg

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Soccer’s foothold in NYC is stronger than ever. Still, not everyone is up to speed with the teams, tournaments and latest happenings on the City scene. But fear not: if you've got soccer questions, we've got soccer answers. Read on to become an expert.

How many major professional teams play in the New York City metropolitan area?
Three. The longest-running local team is the New York Red Bulls, who started 20 years ago in Major League Soccer (MLS) as the New York-New Jersey MetroStars. Last year, New York City FC (NYCFC, for short), a team jointly owned by baseball’s New York Yankees and English Premier League team Manchester City, joined the Red Bulls. The third area side is the New York Cosmos, in the North American Soccer League (NASL). Their current incarnation has been operating since 2013, though their famous team name goes back to the 1970s.

Where can I go see them?
The Red Bulls play out in Harrison, New Jersey—an easy PATH train ride away. NYCFC hosts games in Yankee Stadium, up in the Bronx right next to a subway stop. The rebooted Cosmos ply their trade over just over the City border in Hempstead, Long Island, at Shuart Stadium; you can get there via LIRR and game-day shuttle buses.

Wait. Yankee Stadium? How the heck do they transform a baseball diamond into a soccer pitch?
While most soccer venues in MLS are purpose built for the sport, a few are converted—and NYCFC’s home is the only one that is primarily a baseball park (the others are football stadiums). As a consequence, the field is slightly shorter—106 by 68 yards—than average, carved out of the Yankee outfield and (half the) infield. The process takes a few days.

Wait again. What’s a pitch? That sounds like baseball term to me.
True, but it’s sometimes used to refer to the field of play in soccer. Other quirks: the home team is listed first in game match-ups, “nil” is used to indicate “zero” and a “clean sheet” is the term for when a team goes through a game without being scored upon. Thank the British.

When does the MLS season start?
All the teams are in training camp already, and the season kicks off on March 6. The regular season runs till late October, with the playoffs continuing through November and into early December. NASL starts in early April and breaks its year into two nominal short seasons—a spring and fall, even though “fall” begins in early July.  

So do any of the local teams play against one another?
The so-called Hudson River derby, which pits NYCFC and the Red Bulls against each other, takes place three times a season; the Red Bulls swept last year’s inaugural series. The Cosmos only get a chance to play against one of those teams if they happen to advance in the US Open Cup. In the fourth round of that 2015 competition, the Cosmos beat NYCFC on penalty kicks.

What is a derby?
Pronounced dar-bee, it’s soccer’s word (though not proprietary to the sport) for a game between two local rivals.

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What’s the US Open Cup?
It’s one of the most egalitarian competitions going, featuring clubs of all levels. Amateur teams work their way up a play-in ladder, some moving on to play teams from the lowest tier of professional clubs in the United States—with winners then playing teams from the NASL and those winners facing MLS teams and so on. All the local professional clubs will be involved, and there will likely be a game or two hosted in the area come June.

Isn’t that the same time the Copa America Centenario is coming to town? That’s going to be a big deal, right?
A very big deal. A special edition of Copa America, which traditionally pits the top teams from South America (along with two international invitees) against one another in a tournament arguably only usurped in magnitude by the World Cup, is coming to the United States for the first time. So the US gets to compete in the 16-team field; they’re in a group with Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay. Stars like Brazil's Neymar and Argentina's Lionel Messi have pledged to participate; whichever teams make it to the quarterfinals and finals at MetLife Stadium are bound to feature name players you’ll want to see.

Those guys are great. But who’s the best player in the City?
Well, the Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips led the league in scoring in 2014 and followed that up by being fifth in goals last year, and team captain Dax McCarty is the team’s steadying midfield influence. But NYCFC has a few big names too—including David Villa, whose touch and skill are pretty much unsurpassed in these parts.

OK, I’m fired up. What’s my next step?
Get yourself to a game!

Visit Ticketmaster for tickets to Copa Centenario; the Red Bulls; and NYCFC. For Cosmos tickets, visit nycosmos.com. For much more on sporting events in the City, visit our sports calendar.

NYCFC Team Guide: 2016 Season

Sports NYCFC Team Guide: 2016 Season

New York City FC Home field: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY (tickets) Who they are: The only team in the region that plays within City limits. Faces of the franchise: A starry trio of European footballers—midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard, and striker David Villa—joined the team as designated players in its first year but didn’t have much time together. Key addition: Despite trading for the top pick in the MLS draft (Jack Harrison, who is out with an injury to start the year), NYCFC might find that its success depends on how the players—especially on the defensive side—respond to first-time manager Patrick Vieira, former captain of the France national team and longtime Arsenal midfielder.  Fan club: The Third Rail (Sample chant: “I wanna Diskerud all night / And party everyday!” That would be for midfielder Mix Diskerud.) Local supporters’ bar: Places near the stadium should work; other bars that hold away-game watch parties include Ryan’s Daughter, on the Upper East Side. (From left) Kwadwo Poku, David Villa and Thomas McNamara. Random bit of trivia: The team’s just-unveiled secondary jerseys use orange and blue as their main colors—somewhat reminiscent of the colors worn by a crosstown baseball club not named the Yankees. Match-day practicalities: Take the B, D or 4 trains to the Yankee Stadium-161st St.    

2016 New York Red Bulls Team Guide

Sports 2016 New York Red Bulls Team Guide

New York Red Bulls Home field: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ (tickets) Who they are: One of the original MLS franchises—launched as the MetroStars—the Red Bulls were regular-season champs in 2015 and made a deep playoff run. Faces of the franchise: Ace goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, steady midfielders Dax McCarty and Sasha Kljestan, dangerous winger Lloyd Sam—the list of skilled players is extensive. Key addition: When your top defender (Matt Miazga) moves to play for English Premier League power Chelsea, your team has some pretty big shoes to fill. Fan clubs: Empire Supporters Club, which you can find on gamedays in section 101; Viking Army, which commandeers section 102. Local supporters’ bar: There are plenty of NYC bars where you can join fans; one is Queens' Bar 43. Bradley Wright-Phillips. Random bit of trivia: Five former franchise coaches also led national teams to the World Cup: Carlos Quieroz (Portugal), Carlos Alberto Parreira (Brazil), Bora Milutinovic (Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Nigeria, China), Bruce Arena (United States) and Bob Bradley (United States). Match-day practicalities: Take a PATH train to the Harrison stop from either the World Trade Center Transportation Hub or via Newark Penn Station (which you can get to from NYC’s Penn Station).    

NY Cosmos Team Guide: 2016 Season

Sports NY Cosmos Team Guide: 2016 Season

The retooled NASL champs aim for a repeat and a sustained Open Cup run.

Must-See 2016 NYC Soccer Matches

Sports Must-See 2016 NYC Soccer Matches

The Major League Soccer regular season runs from early March to late October, with the postseason following on. March 6 New York Red Bulls vs. The Red Bulls begin what they hope is another successful campaign against high-flying goal scorer Sebastian Giovinco and US men’s national soccer team captain Michael Bradley. March 13 New York City FC vs. Giovinco, Bradley and Co. May 21 New York City FC vs. Round One in this year’s local rivalry series. May 29 New York City FC vs. This should serve as a kind of State of the Union for the comparative progress of last year’s two expansion clubs. June 1 and 15 Third and Fourth Rounds of US Open Cup (teams TBD) It’s uncertain that any of the local teams will host in this tournament (which includes teams from all levels of American soccer), but chances are good that at least one will. June 12 Ecuador vs. Two teams in Copa America Centenario’s Group B square off in this match at MetLife Stadium; advancement to the quarterfinals may be at stake. June 17 Copa America Centenario Quarterfinal  This MetLife Stadium game will pit the winner of Group B against the second-place team in Group A. June 26 Copa America Centenario Final The historic tournament crowns a champion at MetLife Stadium. July 3 New York City FC vs. Another installment in the New York derby. July 10 New York Red Bulls vs. This marks the lone time the defending MLS champs will come to town. July 24 New York Red Bulls vs. For the last time this regular season, City supremacy is on the line. Lloyd Sam (with ball) and Taylor Kemp, New York Red Bulls vs. September 11 New York Red Bulls vs. One of the original, and most heated, MLS rivalries resumes.


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