These Are the 6 Best Places to Play Pickup Soccer in NYC

Lead Photo: Photo by demachi/iStock / Getty Images Plus
Photo by demachi/iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Despite only fielding an MLS team in NYC proper for a couple of years–no, Red Bulls, your Harrison, New Jersey stadium doesn’t count–New York has a rich soccer culture that dates back to the days of Pelé at the New York Cosmos. On a more local level, you can go all over the five boroughs and find dozens of games happening on every kind of pitch you can imagine; from the blacktop exhibitions in the Lower East Side to the grassy fields in Brooklyn. If you’re new to the city, visiting for a weekend, or just looking for new places to show off your rabona skills, it may even be overwhelming to find out where the hottest games are happening in the city.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve scoured the Big Manzana in order to find the hottest spots to lace up and curl some bangers in…or at least try to, anyway. These are 6 of the best places to play soccer in NYC; if none of these catch your fancy, you can always hit up your local park with friends and create your own pick-up game. That’s the magic of the city in action.

1. Pier 40 at Hudson River Park

Pier 40 At Hudson River Park
92 Hudson River Greenway
New York, NY 10014

Pier 40 at Hudson River Park is one of the premier places for soccer in New York City. With heavy traffic, the games never end here. You might have to wait a bit because some leagues rent the space but not to worry, if the main field is occupied, you could always head upstairs and play on the rooftop with a gorgeous view of the New York City skyline. With two huge fields at your disposal and plenty of quality competition, you’re in for a fun experience here. Full sized Turf fields provide the necessary space for 11 v 11 games. A quick search on social media can also provide you with plenty of meetups for pick up games, if you don’t want to just show up.

2. Sara D. Roosevelt Park 

Sara D. Roosevelt Park
Chrystie St. & Forsyth Street New York, NY 10002
167-191 Forsyth Street New York, NY 10002

Back in 2011 this park was the winner of the “Best Place To Play Pick Up Soccer” in the Village Voice’s Best Of issue. Not much has changed since then. Like Pier 40, Sara D. Roosevelt park also boasts two fields close to one another. Although they aren’t full sized soccer fields, they make for some of the best 7 v 7 games in the city. These turf fields are some of the few with lights for night play. There are plenty of games going on here all day and into the evening and, although there is league play, you can find a random pickup game and meet some local players that can direct you to more competition.

3. Bushwick Inlet Park

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Bushwick Inlet Park
N 10th Street & Kent Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Bushwick Inlet Park is another turf field with a gorgeous view of the NYC skyline. This Brooklyn park located in Williamsburg offers plenty of opportunity for good pick-up competition. There are plenty of weekend games here, as well as evening weekday games with a gorgeous view of the East River. The field’s hours are from 9 AM- 10:15 PM, and you can see the times that the field will be occupied online so you can plan accordingly. You can also join a meetup group so you can stay loose and enjoy a few games a week.

4. Brooklyn Bridge Park- Pier 5

Brooklyn Bridge Park- Pier 5
334 Furman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 offers one of New York City’s best soccer experiences. This turf field is another one that doesn’t at all disappoint when it comes to views, as NYC’s biggest buildings overlook the field. Pier 5 is a hotspot for league play, so you may have to wait your turn, but there is great pickup action here on the weekend. With 3 full pitches, many players from all over the city flock here looking for a good match. You can go online and check out the open field times ahead of your trip to make sure there’s field space for your game.

5. Central Park

Central Park (Great Lawn or North Meadow)
Middle Of Park on 84th street
Mid-Park from 97th to 102nd streets

Central Park provides one of New York City’s most authentic soccer adventures. This is one of those places you can just pull up with a ball, pull some strangers together, and start up a game with a host of different characters. If you want to do something a little more organized, you can actually apply for a permit for a field for just $10 and drop it off at the Arsenal building at 64th street and 5th Ave. This will help you avoid being kicked off the pitch by another soccer game or softball league which could be an issue at the busy park.

6. McCarren Park 

McCarren Park
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11222

McCarren Park is one of the best soccer spots in the city. Located in Williamsburg, a game can be found here on any given weekend morning or afternoon. The competition here will be decent so you’ll want to bring your A game with you. Some meetups let you get down with games at McCarren for just $1, so hop on that deal and enjoy a day out on the pitch. If you’re not looking to spend that dollar, there will be plenty of games to join in on, just pop up and get familiar with the regulars.