Chelsea's John Mikel Obi and Paris St Germain's Maxwell battle for the ball in the second half of their team's friendly soccer match at Yankee Stadium, the home of the New York Yankees baseball team, in New York

Possible temporary homes for New York City FC

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After more than three years in the making, yesterday Major League Soccer announced that the 20th franchise will be called New York City FC. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal

However, this news has been coming for a while.

But in amongst all the excitement and rigmarole from Manchester City and the New York Yankees — who will be the owners of the the new franchise — one key factor has gone slightly missing.

Where will NYCFC play?

Yes, we all know about the MLS Stadium plans in Queens. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to give an update on that and more later today, so check back here for that. But NYCFC are expected to join MLS for the 2015 season, giving less than two years for a stadium to be constructed. That’s not possible.

Building a stadium in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens has hit a few snags, to say the least, in recent months. The New York Times’ George Vecsey discussed those issues superbly this morning. And in this very blog yesterday evening, Steve Davis brought up MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s comments about having “no plan B’ for anywhere other than Flushing Meadows Park for the new MLS franchise to be based.

So are there alternatives for an interim home for New York City FC in the New York metro area, while a new stadium is being built? You betcha.

Yankee Stadium

The most obvious choice right off the bat. The Yankees involvement in this deal my very well include their stadium as the temporary home for the first two or three seasons. On Saturday Manchester City will play Chelsea in a friendly and Yankee Stadium has hosted plenty of big friendlies between the top European sides in recent years. Was all that in preparation for an MLS franchise to play there for a few seasons? The one big thing is the turnover between baseball and soccer matches. With the seasons running at the same time, MLB and MLS will have to work together to schedule games accordingly. This could be a great opportunity to keep the club in New York City proper and snag some Yankee fans to NYCFC’s fanbase. Update: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner on NYCFC at today’s press conference: “Well, tentatively we are working on them playing at Yankee Stadium.”

MetLife Stadium

Probably a complete no-no. But still, you never know. Massive stadium that would probably be a quarter full for MLS games, could NYCFC transform an NFL venue like Seattle does or maybe the ‘Caps who only use the lower bowl at BC Place? It could work. Big stumbling blocks include poor transports links out to the stadium and a lack of atmosphere being created. And oh yeah, the fact that Met Life is in New Jersey. That’s a biggie.

Red Bull Arena

Another non-starter perhaps. But look at how the Home Depot Center is shared by LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. It is possible. The Red Bulls are the new rivals for NYCFC but they could certainly help them out with a temporary home. It wouldn’t sit well with RBNY fans and sharing a stadium with your local rivals diminishes the rivalry, in some cases. But when you think about AS Roma and Lazio, it can work. But highly unlikely. Also, the New Jersey issue raises its ugly head once more.

Columbia University Stadium

Not many have mentioned this idea. But it could be one to think about. Columbia University’s football stadium is located in Manhattan is close to the 215th street stop on the subway and would be relatively cheap to upgrade and place temporary seats in. Like the Vancouver Whitecaps did at Empire Field for their inaugural MLS season, a temporary home with flexible seating arrangements can work for small periods of time. Columbia’s soccer stadium could also be redeveloped and is close by, but the capacity will be very small. Look no further than Buck Shaw Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, for proof that this is a viable option. Maybe.

Citi Field

This one is highly unlikely…but I’m going to throw it out there due to its proximity to the potential new home of NYCFC in Flushing. Just a stones throw away from the proposed new stadium plan MLS has been working on for over a year, the fanbase could grow in the local area while the tam plays at a temporary pitch at the New York Mets’ stadium. It wouldn’t be ideal, but like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field has hosted soccer games in the past.

(More: MLS may be backpedaling on Queens as NYC site)

Watford “Behind The Badge” airs third installment; Catch up on Episode 2 here

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Catch up on Watford’s look “Behind The Badge” ahead of Sunday’s third episode of the four-part glimpse into one of the Premier League’s promoted sides.

The Hornets sit 11th, currently 7 points clear of relegation danger, and are giving fans a better idea of what’s been going on at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: Behind the Badge archive

In an exclusive series, NBC Sports followed around the Hornets in a very similar fashion to HBO’s Hard Knocks which joins the preseason camp of one NFL team each summer.

Below is the schedule for the three remaining episodes on Watford, which you can watch on NBCSN and live online via NBCSports.com in the coming weeks, plus a link to watch episode one in full from last week.


First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Embedded above
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Follow @NicholasMendola

MLS Cup Final preview: Seattle, Toronto battle subzero temps for first Cup

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley walks off the field after a training session, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Toronto, for the MLS Cup soccer championship. Toronto hosts the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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  • First MLS Cup Final for both
  • Sounders all-time 7W-2L-2T
  • TFC joined in 2007, Seattle 2009

It’ll be in the high twenties (-1 Celsius) when Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders kick off the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night in Ontario (Kickoff is Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT).

Combine the visible breath and slight chance of snow with a BMO Field which has been relentlessly loud throughut TFC’s playoff run, and we have the makings of an all-timer.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Cup roundtable ]

Toronto and Seattle met up at the same venue on July 2, the 1-1 draw perhaps a bit deflated by the absence of Clint Dempsey for Seattle and TFC’s American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

Seattle superstar Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t there, either, still weeks away from arriving from Boca Juniors.

This is the second MLS Cup Final at BMO Field, after Colorado defeated FC Dallas in 2010. TFC men Drew Moor and Clint Irwin were part of the championship-winning Rapids in that one.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris greets fans who gathered to send off the team after MLS soccer training, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders were scheduled to travel to Toronto later Wednesday to prepare to face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s Jordan Morris (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

[ MORE: PST’s Michael Bradley interview ]

Toronto will bring star power to go with a challenging formation; While accolades rightly go to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco, the Reds’ 3-5-2 under Greg Vanney features versatile wide men in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Seattle is powered through Nicolas Lodeiro, the ex-Boca Juniors playmaker who has been nearly as effective as Giovinco (albeit with a smaller MLS sample size). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the ex-TFC man, has been very good at the back, but can the Sounders’ back line handle Altidore and Giovinco?

The metronomes could be the difference. Bradley’s been good for TFC, but Osvaldo Alonso gave an MLS MVP caliber performance this season.

[ MORE: PST talks with Ozzie Alonso ]

What they’re saying

Toronto FC keeper Irwin on the weather: “It’s probably the most difficult part. As a field player, you can move around. You’re warmer, more active. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up, and I’ll stay moving back there.”

Seattle forward Jordan Morris on Lodeiro“The first thing Lodeiro said to me is, ‘When I get the ball, you just run.’ I think of him like a quarterback.”

Prediction

Look to the engine rooms here. Alonso is a handful and a magnificent passer of the ball. On his day, Bradley is even better. Will it be? Neither player will shirk from pressure. We’re thinking extra time after a 1-1 match. And Toronto’s depth and home field will propel it to a 2-1 win.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester City

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Bacary Sagna of Manchester City clears the ball from Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester City at The King Power Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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  • Man City leads all-time 53W-29D-28L
  • Leicester took 4 of 6 pts last season
  • MCFC won previous four

To cure what ails, Leicester City has to knock off one of the top contenders to its Premier League throne: Manchester City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC and NBCSports.com).

There are some advantages for Leicester, though, as Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero are suspended for their red cards picked up the loss to Chelsea. Pep Guardiola used Pablo Zabaleta next to Fernando in the UCL draw with Celtic, and looks set for the same come Saturday.

Leicester rested the majority of its starters in a 5-0 loss at Porto this week, following up a 2-1 setback at Sunderland that left the champs just two points ahead of the 18th and 19th placed clubs in the PL.

What they’re saying

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri on the task at hand: “I was waiting for a period like this. Now it’s important to react with a big effort together from the team. That is my focus now. We have to be focused on these matches until Christmas Day. We have to get points. We need points and we have to fight. This part of the season is our key moment. I think every match gives us an opportunity. We have to fight. I repeat, we have to fight.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola on Zabaleta’s positional change“But I think Pablo Zabaleta can play in the middle – he is very experienced and he can play there as he did very well against Celtic. I think in the last years of his career he’ll play more in the middle and it gives us another option.”

Prediction

As much as the injuries hurt Man City, there’s certain harm in the wounded unit that fell 3-1 to Chelsea. We believe the Foxes will strike, but Kelechi Iheanacho has proven more than a suitable fill-in for Aguero. Man City 2-1.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 15

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Week 15 of the Premier League is here.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ VIDEO: Previews of every PL game – Week 15 ]

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 West Brom – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Liverpool 4-1 West Ham – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Leicester City 1-3 Man City – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Swansea City 2-3 Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]

Watford 0-1 Everton – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Man United 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Hull City 2-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]