Like It or Not, Yankee Stadium Is Becoming the New American Soccer Hotspot

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Like It or Not, Yankee Stadium Is Becoming the New American Soccer Hotspot
Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

BRONX, N.Y. — When you mention Yankee Stadium to any sports fan, the sport they easily associate it with is baseball, but that is about to change. 

For the second consecutive season, Manchester City, parent club of Major League Soccer expansion side New York City FC, played a match at the storied stadium. 

After coming over after the 2012-13 English Premier League season to face Chelsea, the defending EPL champions took on Liverpool as a part of the International Champions Cup. 

Wednesday night's match, and the one held at the home of the New York Yankees last season, were test runs to see how the venue will appear as the permanent home of NYCFC, at least for the first three years. 

Just like the two friendlies played on the field, there will plenty of big names to come watch, as the new MLS side will feature Frank Lampard, David Villa and a third unknown designated player that is sure to draw attention whenever he signs. 

ADOLFO LEE/Associated Press

"I know that it is a league that is growing every year. You saw at the World Cup how the people in North America support their squad. I think that everyone sees that," Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. 

Despite being a top sporting venue in America, there are plenty of concerns about the playing surface. 

The first thing that stuck out about the pitch for Wednesday night's clash was the area where the right side of the infield is located during baseball games. 

"I thought three-quarters of it was excellent," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said of the pitch after the match.

The dirt on that part of the field was covered up, but that didn't prevent many players from slipping during a full sprint down the right wing. 

"There was a patch over on the right hand side that I assume was where the pitcher stands," Rodgers said in reference to the part of the pitch that caused the players trouble.

Another thing that the wing players had to keep in mind was the width of the pitch, which extended from right below the warning track in the outfield to the part of the infield that is usually employed by Derek Jeter. 

If the Yankees shortstop was confined to the lines of the soccer pitch, he would have to range a few feet to his left before being deemed out of bounds. 

As for the fan's vantage point, the left field bleachers, where the NYCFC supporters section will be located, is on top of one goal, while the seats on the first base line are right behind the other goal. 

Regardless of how the field looks, and the complaints it will receive from the soccer diehards, the product on the pitch has to be successful for fans to continue to make the trek over to the Bronx. 

Ray Stubblebine/Associated Press

Outside of the stars that will bring in fans of the European game, NYCFC manager Jason Kreis has started to acquire MLS veterans so that his side will have a familiarity with the style of play.

The most recent acquisition for the side, who will also be accompanied by Orlando City as an expansion side in 2015, was Andrew Jacobson, who came over in a trade from FC Dallas Tuesday. 

Jacobson joins Jeb Brovsky and Josh Saunders as MLS veterans brought in by Kreis for the inaugural season to provide experience for a side that will presumably see a few loanees from Manchester City's youth ranks as well.

With the squad list beginning to fill up, the responsibility, and a ton of pressure from the ownership, will land on the shoulders of Kreis, who did a terrific job building Real Salt Lake into a dominant side in the Western Conference of MLS

To go along with the normal amount of home games that NYCFC will play, expect big brother Manchester City to continue to build its brand by coming over just like they have this summer. 

If their trend continues, Manchester City will come back next summer to Yankee Stadium, but what type of footballing culture they will experience at the hallowed grounds remains to be seen. 

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

 

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