FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution are expecting an “intense” meeting with New York City FC on Saturday afternoon, partially because of the size of the field at Yankee Stadium.
NYCFC’s surface measures 110 yards long and 70 yards wide, the smallest field in MLS. The compact spacing often makes for hectic, physical encounters, and the Revs will be prepared for a potentially frenzied 90 minutes in the Bronx.
“It’s going to be a fast game,” said Revolution captain Jose Goncalves. “It’s going to be a game without any stop. The field is very small, so the ball is going to be fast from one side to another. It’s going to be a very intense game.”
Width is limited at Yankee Stadium so the midfield can become clogged. To escape the mess in the middle, teams are often forced to play down the wings to create any discernible space.
“It crowds the middle, which makes a smaller field hard to play through the middle, which I think is our strength,” said Kelyn Rowe, who could be deployed centrally with Lee Nguyen on international duty. “It just changes the game plan a little bit.
“I think going forward, free kicks and set pieces will be huge for us.”
Rowe capitalized on a set piece when the Revs last visited Yankee Stadium in October, powering home a header from Chris Tierney’s corner kick to score New England’s third in a 3-1 victory. Tierney will likely see the bulk of those opportunities again on Saturday with Nguyen unavailable.
But it won’t be all about set pieces for the Revs, who are confident they’ll be able to generate enough scoring opportunities if they can be sharp in possession.
“We need to make sure that we defend well and that we take our chances,” said Goncalves. “We want to have a lot of possession of the ball. That’s always our game plan because we know we can play some really good soccer.”