The final round of the Leagues Cup Group Stage kicks off tomorrow and runs through Monday, July 31. New York City FC aren’t playing this weekend, but fans will be keeping an eye on the games to see if NYCFC win their group and earn home-field advantage, and who they will face in the Round of 32.
What’s at stake for NYCFC? A lot: Here are your Leagues Cup questions asked and answered.
Are NYCFC advancing to the Round of 32?
It’s official, even if it isn’t officially-official: Because of the five-goal thumping of Toronto FC on Wednesday, NYCFC are guaranteed to finish in first or second place in the East 3 group and will advance.
The group stage table is determined by points, head-to-head results, and goal differential in that order, which seals NYCFC’s spot in the Round of 32. If Atlas win, draw, or lose by two goals or fewer, then Atlas and NYCFC advance; if Toronto win by three goals or more, then NYCFC and Toronto advance.
Did NYCFC win their group?
No, and they probably won’t. The final table will be determined when Toronto host Atlas at BMO Field on Sunday, July 30, at 7:30 pm. To win the group, NYCFC need a Toronto that are on a seven-game losing streak to win by a large margin.
Does that mean we want Toronto to win Sunday?
Yes. More than that, Toronto needs to win by at least three goals:
- Atlas win, draw, or lose by two goals or fewer: Atlas win East 3, NYCFC advance
- Toronto win by three goals or more: NYCFC win East 3, Toronto advance
But never say never. On Wednesday, Toronto interim head coach Terry Dunfield pulled out strikers Federico Bernardeschi and Jordan Perruzza at halftime when Toronto were down 3-0. Maybe he was keeping his powder dry for the offensive showing he’ll need to beat Atlas?
Why is it important that NYCFC win East 3?
Because the winner of East 3 will get glory, honor, and home-field advantage in the Round of 32.
The winner will also face the second-best team from East 4, which ain’t a bad thing.
Also worth considering: The East 3 runner-up moves to a a part of the bracket that could have them face Philadelphia Union in the Round of 16.
Who will NYCFC play in the Round of 32?
It could be New England, New Jersey Red Bulls, or Atlético San Luis: NYCFC’s next opponent will be decided on Sunday, July 30, when the East 3 and East 4 groups are finalized.
Red Bulls will host Atlético San Luis at 7:30 pm at Red Bull Arena, and that result will determine the East 4 table.
- Red Bulls win, or draw and win the penalty shootout: Red Bulls win East 4, New England advance
- Red Bulls draw and lose the penalty shootout: New England win East 4, Red Bulls advance
- Red Bulls lose: New England win East 4, San Luis advance
Likewise, the Toronto vs Atlas game will determine the East 3 table. (See above.)
Which final Group Stage games matter to NYCFC?
The final matches in East 3 and East 4 matter most, but keep an eye on East 1 and East 2.
The winners of East 3 and East 4 play each other in the Round of 32. Then the winners of those games will face the winners East 1 and East 2 in the Round of 16.
Philadelphia Union won East 1 with six points, and now Club Tijuana and Querétaro FC face off on Sunday, July 30, to see which side will advance. Simple enough.
DC United face UNAM in the final game of East 2 on Saturday, July 29, where things are more complicated after CF Montréal lost to DC then drew UNAM and won the penalty shootout.
- DC win or draw and win penalty shootout: DC win East 2, Montréal advance
- DC draw and lose penalty shootout: DC win East 2, UNAM advance
- DC lose: UNAM win East 2, DC advance
When will NYCFC’s Round of 32 game be played?
The Round of 32 will be played on August 2, 3, and 4. Officially, the Leagues Cup hasn’t announced any of the games, but the smart money is on NYCFC playing on Thursday, August 3, or Friday, August 4.
That’s because sources already have Inter Miami, Club Léon, Mazatlán, Pachuca, and LAFC playing on Wednesday, August 2. That’s five of the round’s 16 games, and NYCFC can’t be paired with any of those teams.
Where will NYCFC’s Round of 32 game be played?
That will be decided on Sunday.
Should Atlas win the group, NYCFC will travel to play the winner of East 4.
Should Toronto win by three goals or more on Sunday, NYCFC will win East 3 and have home-field advantage. It could mean that NYCFC will play at Citi Field.
The New York Yankees have a home stand from July 31 to August 6, which takes Yankee Soccer Stadium out of contention. But the New York Mets will be on a road trip from August 1 to August 6 before playing the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on August 7. NYCFC could play at Citi Field on August 3 or 4, which allows for plenty of time to convert the field.
NYCFC could win the group and end up at Red Bull Arena, of course. Nothing is guaranteed.
Will NYCFC advance to the Round of 16?