June 14, 2016
WILL THEY HAVE A FIELD DAY?
NYC FC, struggling at Yankee Stadium, will call a larger pitch in the Bronx home for one night
By Michael Lewis
|The Jack Coffey Field scoreboard is ready to go for Wednesday night's Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup match between NYC FC and the Cosmos.
BRONX -- For one night at least, New York City FC will call another field home in this borough.
Instead of playing at cavernous Yankee Stadium, baseball park that limits the length and width of the playing field, City will welcome the Cosmos at Jack Coffey Field on Fordham University, a multi-purpose stadium that can accommodate futbol, gridiron football and even the outfield for the baseball field.
The stadium has not been a productive or happy place for NYC FC this season as it has struggled to a 1-3-5 mark, accruing only eight out of a possible 27 points.
Perhaps the second-year Major League Soccer team will make the most out of this opportunity to win its first Open Cup match.
The venue for the fourth-round encounter (118 by 73) in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup is bigger than Yankee Stadium (110 by 70). Fordham men's head coach Jim McElderry said it was his understanding that the grounds crew was trying to add a yard to each side to make it 75 yards wide.
Now, the original Coffey Field measurements might not sound that much of an increased, but if you put it into square yards (Fordham has the stadium beat, 8,614 to 7,770 square yards).
Besides, every inch can't hurt, especially when the home team plays out of the back instead of booting the ball into the midfield.
But even in these temporary accommodations, head coach Patrick Vieira isn't totally happy. After all, Jack Coffey Field on the Fordham campus is FieldTurf; the stadium is natural grass, including the temp grass placed over the infield.
"That's what we have to cope with," Vieira said after his club trained on the field Monday. "It's not the best to play a cup game, but that is what we have around and that's what we have to deal with.'
Vieira wasn't certain whether the new digs would help the team secure its first Open Cup win and first derby victory.
"I don't know if you can really call it a home game, but you make it really difficult because it is quite narrow," he said, noting the field was artificial. "So it is not the best. It's is not the best to play these type of games because we will face a team that will be really motivated, that will be the game of the season. The pitch will not make it easy for us."
Maybe, maybe not.
NYC FC and the Cosmos worked out on the field Monday, City in the morning, followed by the North American Soccer League side in the afternoon.
"It's another field," midfielder Mikey Lopez said. "It doesn't really change much. We just got to go out there and play our game."
That would be playing out of the back, which the team has struggled at time at the narrow stadium field this season.
So, forward Patricks Mullins welcomed the opportunity to get used to the pitch.
"I think it took a little adjustment," he said. "As all turf surfaces, I feel each one is a little bit different. So I think it was good for us to come train here today. That being said, we hope that we'll have the grounds crew out here for us to make sure itís nice and slick for us because obviously we're a team that likes to build from the back."
That's where the extra elbow room, however slight on the sides, comes into play.
"We want to make sure we can do it on the turf this Wednesday," Mullins said. "When the whistle blows, there's no excuses. Yes, the field is normal dimensions that you want to have a soccer field. There's really no excuses."
Mullins will take any extra space for his team.
"Space and time in soccer is a crucial part of the game," he said. "If you can get an extra second to start your pattern play approach play to goal, it is vitally important."
Coffey Field seats about 7,000 fans, all on one side. The open end of the field, where the teams will house their coaching staffs and reserve players, houses the infield diamond of the Rams' baseball team.
"Coffey Field has a tremendous amount of history at Fordham University," McElderry said. "Up until about 10 years ago it was mainly used for American football and baseball. Once the school decided to invest in a top level artificial surface, we here in the soccer program have benefited greatly.
"The current surface was installed last year and is excellent. We all would like to play on a beautifully manicured grass field, but that is simply not realistic with the use our field endures being a school in New York City. The artificial surface we have is the next best thing to a quality grass pitch. It has served Fordham soccer very well and I am looking forward to it hosting two top clubs in New York City FC and The New York Cosmos. Should be a great night. "
There is at least one remnant of another sport that is played in the fall.
"Goal posts up, still a football field," Mullins said about one end of the field. "Some of it."
As long as City and the Cosmos can play some futbol.