The playoff team in New York was at Citi Field Sunday afternoon as a baseball diamond was converted to a soccer field. NYCFC contingency plans called for their season finale to be played in Queens instead of the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. With the Yankees at the time in a hunt for a World Series title, NYCFC was forced to relocate the past few weeks.
Yankee Stadium has been a good venue for NYCFC, and now Citi Field as the one-time alternative home venue was just as good. An alternative home for NYCFC is not what the fan base wants and soon there could be a permanent and new home for a franchise that has developed this winning formula in New York.
So it was a 2-2 tie with Columbus on Decision Day Sunday that assured a second place finish in the Eastern Conference and second round bye in their postseason run for a MLS Cup.No knockout round this time for NYCFC, and next is the Eastern Conference semifinals at Yankee Stadium in two weeks on November 5th.
And at Yankee Stadium the eventual MVP of the league. David Villa will be there. He scored both goals for NYCFC, his 21st and 22nd of the season.
But this team thrives and wins at Yankee Stadium. They are looking forward to a return there as much as the fans after finishing second in their conference two straight years.
“I don’t know when we’ve played at home the last time,” midfielder Alex Ring said. “Seven eight weeks ago. It feels like we’ve been on the road the whole time and it’s nice to go back home.” The fans showed up. So, yeah, but it’s always nice to go home and play obviously.”
And despite the change of venue it was the usual NYCFC atmosphere for a home game, except 20, 113 was a few thousand less that would be in the Bronx. The tie was just as good as a win and NYCFC wants to give those fans a championship.
“Because we are in a level now where they’re a lot of expectations from people so it’s important for us to deliver,” said head coach Patrick Vieira. “We are really satisfied. We are really pleased because finishing second in the regular season is a really good achievement.”
But it seemed NYCFC got back on track in the season finale even though this was their fourth tie in their last six games.
“It’s an opportunity to refocus,” said forward Rodney Wallace about going avoiding a knockout round and heading to the conference semifinals. He said the season and tie were an accomplishment and every NYCFC fan can appreciate that at another venue.
Now it’s back to Yankee Stadium where NYCFC will feel at home again. But they were never away at Citi Field and now that real season begins with that quest for a MLS championship.