When the Fire scrimmaged Wednesday at Toyota Park they weren’t using the entire field. Instead of going line to line, the Fire put up mini barriers a few yards from the sidelines and pulled the goals slightly closer to each other to prepare for Yankee Stadium’s tight field.
The condition of the field – and its official dimensions of 110 yards long by 70 yards wide – has been something teams have to deal with when they visit New York City FC. The Fire (3-5-0, nine points) visit Friday night and are no different, even if they have generated their best attacks from the wings while benefiting from playing on wider fields like Toyota Park’s that measures 120 by 75.
“I wouldn’t say it’s really good or bad. It’s just one of those things,” midfielder Shaun Maloney said. “It’s going to be a tighter pitch so you have to accommodate or maybe do things a little differently.”
Regardless of the field – which Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes claimed is actually 106 yards by 68 – the Fire know they have to start scoring more regularly. They’ve connected only seven times in eight games, and only once away from Bridgeview.
They’ll have David Accam back from his one-game suspension, but the speedy winger can be the most dangerous in space he might not have in a stadium built to get fans as close as possible to baseball games, and on a field laid out to avoid a pitcher’s mound. That’s something Accam acknowledges, but he also realizes the Fire will need him to be productive regardless of how close the sidelines are.
“I don’t know. Maybe not good because I want space to run and dribble, but every pitch you have to do whatever you can do for the team,” Accam said. “It’s about the team and not about me.”
Accam is partially right about that. He is only one player whose lone goal followed a goalkeeping error, but he’s been the Fire’s most dynamic player and their attack has been different when he’s been sidelined. That was true Saturday when the Fire lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake and were on the verge of being blanked before Maloney drew a penalty that Jeff Larentowicz converted in the 88th minute.
But even if the pitch isn’t to the Fire’s liking, it’s not like NYCFC (1-6-3, six points) has used Yankee Stadium to its advantage. Despite some splashy signings the first-year team has played like a first-year team, entering Friday winless in eight and losers of four straight.
That seemingly presents the Fire a good chance to end their two-game losing streak and score some goals, small field or not.
“It is what it is,” coach Frank Yallop said. “We’re just looking forward to getting out there and getting ourselves back on track.”