Hours after Messi, Youth Soccer Players take MetLife Stadium Pitch

Hours after Messi, Youth Soccer Players take MetLife Stadium Pitch 1186 587 FIFA World Cup 26 New York New Jersey™

Hours after Messi, Youth Soccer Players take MetLife Stadium Pitch

FIFA World Cup 2026™ New York New Jersey Host Committee Hosts Youth Soccer Day

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY (July 10, 2024) – The FIFA World Cup 2026™ New York New Jersey Host Committee today continued to celebrate the soccer-filled summer by providing access to the pitch at MetLife Stadium to hundreds of youth from across the region. The activities included dynamic soccer clinics led by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Host Committee’s Legacy Strategy Partner, on MetLife Stadium’s iconic field. 

The youth players represented organizations including the NJ Youth Soccer/US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer, the YMCA of Greater New York, and the NJ YMCA State Alliance. The participants played on the pitch laid down specifically for CONMEBOL Copa America 2024™ matches, including Tuesday’s semifinal between Argentina and Canada.

“From neighborhood pickup games to global matches, soccer is a game that unites people across communities, and across the world,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “The lasting legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2026™ will span far beyond the games as we work to ensure that this once in a lifetime experience is enjoyed by generations throughout the next two years. This youth soccer event is just one example of how we will cultivate an inclusive and engaging experience for the region’s youngest soccer fans.”

“Today’s Youth Soccer Day at MetLife Stadium represents the magnetic energy reflected from all ages in the region as we gear up for FIFA World Cup 2026™. By bringing together young players from New York and New Jersey, we are fostering a sense of community and opportunity for our young people, and it is a testament to the vibrant diversity and inclusivity that defines New York New Jersey,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This event embodies our commitment to ensuring that 2026 leaves a lasting impact for the next generation.”

“This day reflected all that the NYNJ Host Committee and our region strive for: diversity, access, inclusion, and growing the game of soccer,” said Lauren LaRusso and Bruce Revman, Co-Host City Managers of the FIFA World Cup 2026™ New York New Jersey Host Committee. “We are committed to using the FIFA World Cup 2026™ to engage with as many people as possible in the lead up and leave a lasting legacy for the local communities.”

“We are thrilled that so many of our youth from across New Jersey and New York City  came together today to play soccer,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Events like today’s celebration are integral to ensuring that large scale events leave a positive and lasting impact for youth, especially those from under-resourced communities. This is just the beginning of much more to come to ensure that we use the beautiful game to strengthen communities and improve the health and well-being of youth leading up to and after the FIFA World Cup 2026™.”

“Youth Soccer Day aligns perfectly with our vision to establish soccer as the preeminent sport in New Jersey that unites, grows, and inspires a lifelong passion,” said New Jersey Youth Soccer Executive Director Evan Dabby.  “We are beyond grateful for our relationship with the NYNJ World Cup Host Committee, the US Soccer Foundation, the New York Red Bulls, MLS GO and others involved in this event that provided a unique opportunity that these young players will remember forever.”

“We are excited to be a part of today’s event that exemplifies MLS GO’s pillar of increasing access to our sport alongside youth organizations that share that same ambition,” said Kyle Albrecht, Vice President of MLS GO. “Moments like this help grow the game at the youth level by fostering young soccer fans’ love for the sport, inspiring them to continue playing soccer, and building excitement around the sport ahead of the arrival of the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2026.”

“Newark YMCA day campers participating in the youth soccer day will showcase their passion for the game, develop essential skills, and have FUN,” said Michael Bright, President and CEO of the Newark YMCA. “Our campers exemplify the Y’s spirit of caring, learning, and community engagement. Thank you to FIFA World Cup 2026 NYNJ Host Committee for exposing our youth to such a wonderful experience.” 

“Across the world, soccer is a powerful force for good that builds bridges and creates community,” said Sharon Greenberger, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “We are thrilled that YMCA campers from across New York City will have the opportunity to take part in this extraordinary event, strengthen their skills, and connect with other young soccer fans from across the region. The YMCA is grateful to the FIFA World Cup 2026 New York New Jersey Host Committee and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for making this magical moment possible.”

“The Raritan Bay Area YMCA is honored to participate in the NYNJ Community Youth Soccer Day at MetLife Stadium. This event truly speaks to the Y’s commitment to youth development by including, inspiring, and actively engaging our youth. Thank you to the FIFA World Cup 2026™ New York New Jersey Host Committee for including our campers and creating an unforgettable experience for them!” said Steve Jobin, President & CEO of the Raritan Bay Area YMCA.

“The New York Red Bulls are proud to have the most dynamic youth soccer programming in the country which includes over 40,000 participants,” said Marc de Grandpré, President, New York Red Bulls. “As MLS continues its growth in popularity and the anticipation of FIFA World Cup 2026™ keeps building, the importance of integrating and introducing our communities to the beautiful game becomes more important than ever.”

“Providing youth soccer programming and increasing access to the beautiful game are core pillars of New York City FC’s mission. We believe in using the power of soccer to empower lives, and today’s event does exactly that,” said Brad Sims, CEO of New York City FC. “We are grateful to the NYNJ Host Committee for including us to in a day that will leave a positive, lasting impact for hundreds of youth.”

This event was part of the NYNJ Host Committee and U.S. Soccer Foundation’s larger partnership, focused on accelerating the Foundation’s efforts to create safe places to play and engage New York and New Jersey in soccer by 2026. As the Host Committee’s Legacy Strategy Partner, the two organizations are working together to design and implement programs that use soccer to achieve positive outcomes for youth living in the region’s underserved communities. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is focused on advancing soccer as a vehicle for social impact and, over the last three decades, has engaged more than 2 million youth from more than 1,000 largely underserved communities in proven programs.

New York New Jersey will host eight FIFA World Cup 2026™ matches, including the Final on July 19, 2026.

Photos of the event can be found here.