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Union can do the league a favor with win at Yankee Stadium

NYCFC’s home field has no business hosting a playoff game; a Union win there on Sunday could help prevent that

MLS: Colorado Rapids at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yankee Stadium is an embarrassment to Major League Soccer and pro soccer in the United States.

That may sound harsh, but every time I see a game on TV — and the one time I’ve seen the Philadelphia Union play there — I’m frankly embarrassed that a top flight team plays at a baseball stadium, on a field that just barely meets FIFA standards at 70 by 110 yards (Talen Energy Stadium’s field is 75 x 120 yards).

It’s bad enough watching USL games at baseball stadiums — the Steel are playing one in the nice for baseball but really ugly for soccer Louisville Slugger Stadium tonight — but top flight soccer in the biggest media market in the league? Completely absurd.

The Philadelphia Union have never won within the narrow confines of Yankee Stadium — they have a pair of losses and a draw — but a win on Sunday would be huge for the club while also potentially helping the league save face from having a playoff game played there.

If the Union can pick up three points — which they did at home for one of their biggest wins of the season in August — they’d finish the season in third place and host one of the first round matches. A win for the scorching D.C. United could earn them the right to host the other first round match in their first season at Audi Field depending on goal differential.

This would be the best scenario for the Union and the league.

Talen Energy Stadium and Audi Field would both be great venues for knockout matches and the Union playing the sixth place team — either Columbus Crew or Montreal Impact — would probably be a preferred situation than hosting a D.C. United team unbeaten in nine matches (7 wins, two draws) since the Union beat them 2-0 in D.C. on August 29th.

One caveat to that: D.C. has only one road win this season and Montreal — should they take sixth place — shredded the Union to pieces with their counter attack in a 4-1 win at Talen Energy Stadium last month.

No matter what happens on Sunday, the Union will finish their best regular season in club history and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

But heading into the playoffs with a win and a guaranteed home game would be an added cherry on the top of an odd but wonderfully surprising season few of us predicted would ever be possible.

The Union finishing in third place? That seems almost as ridiculous as a soccer team playing games at Yankee Stadium.