Red Bulls Weigh In On Quirks of Playing at Yankee Stadium

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

NEW YORK CITY – In the younger days of Major League Soccer, playing in a baseball stadium was a common occurrence.

In the new era of MLS, the soccer specific stadium rules the proverbial roost.

That makes the first match of the Hudson River Derby quite unique.

The Red Bulls, who started in this league as the Metrostars, began their history playing across the football lines of Giants Stadium before finding a home in Red Bull Arena — arguably the crown jewel of the league’s soccer specific venues.

When the Derby opens it’s 2016 edition, however, the Red Bulls will travel to Yankee Stadium, with its narrow pitch and its not-so-traditional surroundings.

As if those surroundings weren’t enough, Yankee Stadium’s configuration also brings about a different set of challenges.

“I felt like, being on the wing at times, trying not to run offside is weird because I’m looking down the line of defenders, but the stadium is shaped in a different way,” Mike Grella, native of Glen Cove, NY, said Thursday evening. “So, I didn’t really know. It gives you a false sense of where you’re standing on the field. It’s awkward.”

Midfielder Felipe Martins agreed. “I think the size of the field is shorter, more compact. So, you can’t really play long balls (as a midfielder) because of the size. You need to control how hard you hit the ball (a bit better).”

According to team captain Dax McCarty, the odd set up is something that New York will be prepared for. “In training, we’ll do some exercises with smaller space, because clearly (the playing surface at) Red Bull Arena is much bigger than Yankee Stadium,” McCarty stated.

The quality of the pitch itself is something that clubs take into account when playing on the road. Yankee Stadium presents it’s own set of challenges there as well. With the sod being laid down over the infield dirt, the pitch becomes a bit discolored. Felipe also commented that the sod “played softer” than the rest of the outfield.

While grounds staff seems to have improved on that this season, the infield is still visible – and the texture of the surface remains a distraction.

It’s a quirk that McCarty noticed last season. “The only thing I remember is, if you’re looking at the field and the scoreboard is behind you, where the infield is. The grass is a little bit different. That obviously makes for a funny bounce here and there, but for the most part, the pitch was nice on the outfield. One side of the field is better than the other.”

NYCFC players are clearly more guarded about the play on the pitch. As David Villa said, “everyone has to play on the same field. It is no excuse.”

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  • OpenCupFan

    Someone should tell Villa that in fact not everyone has to play at all – Lampard just collects a check.

    • smurf040

      Wrong! He “might get involved” lol! what an *******!

    • Larry\’s A Simpleton

      so whats going to be the excuse of the week this go round when about 1500 show up at the lacrosse stadium?

  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    They should have mentioned unlike shuart stadium there will be thousands of fans in the stands and not thousands of empty bleacher seats. plus all areas of yankee stadium will be open, because unlike the f.cosmos, nycfc doesnt have to clse half the stadium to make it look like people are there.

    • What Larry Really Means

      I really do manage to shoe horn the Cosmos into every piece. I am obsessed. I want to sneak into the Cosmos dressing room and watch them shower.