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How Small is too Small? Yankee Stadium as a Soccer Field Fits the Bill

Crew SC travel to the smallest soccer field in MLS this weekend. How will that impact the team's play?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Whoever thought soccer in a baseball stadium was a great idea probably didn't have too much experience with soccer matches.

Let's not go into the headache New York City FC has with sharing Yankee Stadium with its intended tenants, but look specifically at what will impact Columbus Crew SC this weekend as they travel to take on the team from the Big Apple.

The home field of NYCFC is listed at 110 x 70 yards, or as small as a soccer field is allowed to be according to FIFA regulations.

"We have to get the real dimensions there because we line the [practice] field right now with their dimensions and it doesn't seem that small," Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the Yankee Stadium pitch this week. "We've got to figure that out. It looks a lot smaller on television."

It does look a lot smaller on television Coach. That could be just camera angles or maybe City is getting by with a smaller than regulation field.

An official match soccer goal is eight yards wide, meaning half of that would be four yards. From the one post, to the closest short edge of the penalty box is 18 yards. There is a marker on every field 10 yards away from the corner arc so the referee can easily move back an opponent on a corner kick. This line appears to be about a yard from the outside edge of the penalty area.

The math here is simple. 11 yards from sideline to the box + 18 yards from the box to the goal post + four yards to the middle of the field equals 33 yards. Multiply that by two, for the other half of the field, and the pitch is only 66 yards wide.

While this is certainly a rough estimate due to eyeballing the 10-yard line, it would be tough to imagine the line as a full two yards away from the edge of the penalty area.

While complaining about a potentially too narrow field won't get anyone anywhere, it is interesting to note.

Regardless, the Black & Gold will play on the postage stamp-sized pitch on Saturday and have to deal with the tight dimensions. As Berhalter points out though, both teams play on the same field.

"The game might be a little different, but it will probably be the same dimensions for both teams," he said with a smile. "So we'll have to deal with it."

As for how his team will adjust, Berhalter said everything will be quicker.

"You certainly need to move, things will happen a little bit faster with the decreased width and decreased length so you have to be prepared," he said. "There's a number of challenges that we'll address as the week goes on."

While it may impact the game, getting to play in an iconic venue like Yankee Stadium doesn't happen for too many people. Goalkeeper Steve Clark said it won't affect him, but he may take a selfie after the match.

Berhalter had a bit more connection with the Yankees.

"Yeah, I paid attention to them for not liking them," he explained. "My cousin and my Godfather was a player for the Red Sox and I followed the Red Sox."

The head coach said he's been to the old Yankee Stadium, but not the new.

That will all change Saturday when the teams take the field. It won't be baseball, but Berhalter will get his chance to see the new venue in all its tiny field glory.