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MLS 2020: Your team-by-team preview

Major League Soccer
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New York City FC moving CONCACAF Champions League match to Red Bull Arena - sources

NYCFC could play its opening CCL match at New York Red Bull Arena.

New York City FC has been forced to hold the home leg of its CONCACAF Champions League encounter against AD San Carlos at Red Bull Arena, sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed to ESPN.

San Carlos sporting director Gustavo Perez revealed on Tuesday that the match, scheduled for Feb. 26, will be played at RBA, home of NYCFC's city rivals the New York Red Bulls. San Carlos will host the first leg in the round of 16 on Feb. 20.

"[NYCFC] wanted to avoid playing [at Red Bulls Arena] because of the rivalry they have with the Red Bulls, but in the end they had no other choice," Perez told Costa Rican outlet Hoy.

A source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN that neither Yankee Stadium, NYCFC's usual home venue, nor Citi Field were available. Citi Field, home of MLB's New York Mets, has been used as an alternate venue in the past. NYCFC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

NYCFC explored the possibility of hosting the match at Belson Stadium, on the campus of St. John's University, but the venue didn't meet CONCACAF's minimum venue standards. That left NYCFC with the option of either playing at Red Bull Arena, or a venue outside of the New York/New Jersey area. In the end, NYCFC opted to play at RBA.

The decision marks the latest instance where NYCFC has been forced to find an alternate venue. During the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs, a scheduling conflict with the Yankees, who were involved in the MLB playoffs, forced NYCFC to hold its playoff game at Citi Field, where it lost to Toronto FC, 2-1.

A similar situation arose in 2017 with NYCFC playing its regular season finale against the Columbus Crew at the New York Mets' home venue, drawing that match 2-2.

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