NYC Soccer FAQ: 11 Burning Questions

Andrew Rosenberg

(Updated 02/26/2019)

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 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?
Two. The longer-running local team is the New York Red Bulls, who started more than 20 years ago in Major League Soccer (MLS) as the New York-New Jersey MetroStars. Back in 2015, 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.

Where can I go see them?
The Red Bulls play in Harrison, New Jersey—an easy PATH train ride away. NYCFC hosts games at Yankee Stadium, up in the Bronx right next to the 161 Street subway stop (on the B, D and 4 train lines).

Wait. Yankee Stadium? Home to baseball’s Bronx Bombers?
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 reputed to be slightly shorter—106 by 68 yards—than average, carved out of the Yankee outfield and (half the) infield. The changeover takes a few days and makes for a cool time-lapse video.

Wait again. What’s a pitch? That also sounds baseball-related 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?
The teams begin training camp in mid-January, and this year the season kicks off on March 2. The regular season runs till early October, with the playoffs now running on a compressed schedule—MLS having eliminated home-and-home postseason series. The MLS Cup championship takes place November 10.

New York Red Bulls. Courtesy, USA TODAY Sports. Photo: Anthony Gruppuso

Do 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 lead the all-time series 8–2–4 (outside MLS, the teams have met in the US Open Cup; for more on that, read below).

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.


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 United Soccer League and those winners facing MLS teams and so on. The local professional clubs will be involved, and there will likely be a match or two hosted in the area come June.

Are there any other special matches taking place this year besides those involving the local teams?
Check our list of matches to watch for this season, which includes a tune-up game for the Women’s World Cup and a doubleheader in the opening round of the Gold Cup—a competition involving top teams in North America and the Caribbean.

Bradley Wright-Philips. Courtesy, New York Red Bulls

Who are the best players in the City?
Well, the Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored 105 goals over the past five regular seasons—easily the league-most over that period—so he is definitely in the mix. Teammates Aaron Long and Tim Parker anchor the back linke and both made their national team debuts in 2018. Up in the Bronx, NYCFC has strong midfielders across the board, led by captain Alex Ring and last year's team MVP Maxi Moralez. A case could be made for any of the above, and you never know who might emerge in the coming season.

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

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