Playing Hardball: Union push Red Bulls into 4PM midweek USOC match

The New York Red Bulls will host their quarterfinal encounter against the Philadelphia Union on July 21st — but that move has come at a significant cost.

New York will host the match at the untenable hour of 4 p.m. on Tuesday — just four hours prior to an evening encounter pitting Paris Saint-Germain and AC Fiorentina in International Champions Cup action.

The reason for the strange date and time is simple: New York wanted to retain hosting rights to strengthen their Open Cup run — and the Philadelphia Union played hardball to rip it away.

According to several sources, the Red Bulls, whom are set to host Chelsea as part of the International Champions Cup on July 22nd, sought to change the date of their quarterfinal encounter to accommodate the ICC schedule. New York went through the proper channels to change the date as well, finding willing partners within USSF that supported the move.

Smelling opportunity, Union brass would not accommodate the Red Bulls’ wishes. Instead, the Union tried to pry home field away from New York in an attempt to aid their advancement in the Cup.

Faced with an unwilling partner, the Red Bulls chose to cram their stadium schedule instead of conceding home advantage, taking the hit and bringing the match to Red Bull Arena at the unsightly hour of 4 PM midweek.

According to a league source, had club rival DC United advanced, the date would have been changed. However, the Union, who have faced a difficult year both on and off the field, would not budge on the Red Bulls request, finding a clear chance to uplift their beaten down fan base with an unexpected Open Cup home match.

Central in this struggle for home field advantage is the Red Bulls role in the ICC. Several fans have called out the club for their involvement, particularly knowing that U.S. Open Cup matches could directly effect the team’s schedule in the midsummer months.

For their part, the Red Bulls have long stated their desire to increase revenue through their soccer specific stadium. With several regular season matches drawing poorly, opportunities to host world renown clubs like Chelsea, PSG, Benfica and Fiorentina are gold mines for the club’s income, which may directly impact the team’s overall spending. Outside of increased attendance and season ticket numbers, these outside events are the best opportunity for Red Bull to turn a dollar and, eventually, increase their operational budget on the club level — a budget that has taken a steep cut in recent years.

One source said this is “not what the Red Bulls would have wanted to do,” labeling the Union as a “bad partner” in this entire affair. For better or worse, New York chose home field and a crowded schedule over a road match. That gamble is meant to strengthen their Open Cup run.

Whether it does remains to be seen.

Tickets are available to both the U.S. Open Cup matchup vs. Philadelphia and the ICC match between PSG and ACF Fiorentina. Visit NewYorkRedBulls.com for ticket information beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 9 for the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal. PSG and ACF Fiorentina tickets are available now.

New York Red Bulls season ticket holders will receive their same seat locations for the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal vs. Philadelphia.


Archived content originally from EmpireOfSoccer.com by Dave Martinez

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