Before Minnesota United even began its inaugural MLS season, the match against New York City FC was one many players had circled in anticipation.
The 6:30 p.m. Thursday match not only will be played in Yankee Stadium but also features some big-name players in the world of soccer. Midfielder Andrea Pirlo and forward David Villa are both World Cup winners with Italy and Spain, respectively. They are also the fourth and fifth highest-paid players in Major League Soccer this season, each making about $5.6 million.
In fact, NYCFC's total base salary for its roster ranks second in the league at nearly $17.4 million, behind only Toronto FC.
United forward Christian Ramirez called it "pretty cool" to be able to play soccer at Yankee Stadium.
"It's one of the last, like, baseball field stadiums being used for soccer," Ramirez said. "When you're going against the likes of David Villa, Pirlo and those guys, it's always a pretty cool experience to play against those guys who have won World Cups, who've played in Champions League finals."
Coach Adrian Heath, though, said facing a stacked roster like NYCFC won't be too much of a difference from normal.
"We're in that position most weeks," Heath said. "When you look at the league now, most teams have got DPs."
Team captain Francisco Calvo said while "for sure, it's exciting" to play stars, he also echoed his coach's statement
"In my personal opinion, it's like if we beat New York or we beat any other team, it's the same three points," Calvo said.