NYCFC kick off CONCACAF Champions League campaign vs. Santos

Just two months after capturing the MLS Cup, New York City Football Club begins its conquest for supremacy beyond the United States and Canada. 

And after breaking a near decade-long title drought in New York, they look to break another, larger trophy-less streak. 

NYCFC kicks off its CONCACAF Champions League campaign Tuesday night on the road against Costa Rican side Santos de Guapiles (8 p.m., FS2). The reigning MLS champions earned qualification into the region’s most prestigious competition, which pits the 16 best teams from the region against each other. 

“It’s more about how we perform and how we get into the game, because we are so confident that we know that when we are on our best, we can beat them, and beat almost anybody,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila told reporters Monday. 

CONCACAF’s qualifying region includes teams from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Each round features two legs — one home and one away, with the aggregate score used to determine who advances. 

NYCFC aim to become the first-ever MLS team to win the competition. 

NYCFC celebrate their MLS Cup at City Hall in New York City.
NYCFC celebrate their MLS Cup at City Hall in New York City.
Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden/Sipa

The first leg kicks off at Costa Rica’s Estadio Nacional, before NYCFC come “home” a week later to Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles for the second leg. Yankee Stadium — NYCFC’s usual home — is not CONCACAF approved, and Red Bull Stadium is undergoing renovations. NYCFC play the Galaxy four days after the second leg, allowing them to stay in the area. 

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Deila said. “This is a big, big game for Santos, of course, coming so far in the Champions League and New York City is coming to visit, so we know they’re going to come with a lot of energy. So we have to be ready for that: take the fight, win challenges, stay together and be very, very hard to play against, and that was our strength last year.”