New York City FC (NYCFC) will begin their preparations for the 2019 season in Abu Dhabi, the Major League Soccer club announced on Sunday.
NYCFC are scheduled to arrive in the UAE capital on January 29 and will contest pre-season friendlies against Danish side FC Copenhagen on February 3, and Swedish champions AIK on February 8.
“This preseason will challenge our team in many different ways," NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said. "We’ll experience different locations, venues and teams that will push us physically, mentally and tactically. We couldn’t be more excited to begin our pre-season in Abu Dhabi.”
Last season, NYCFC finished third in the Eastern Conference, and reached the MLS Cup playoff semi-finals before going down to eventual MLS Cup champions Atlanta United.
They will face stiff tests in Abu Dhabi from 12-time Danish champions Copenhagen - the most successful team in Danish football history who have competed in either the Uefa Champions League or Europa League every year since 2001.
Swedish champions AIK have also won their domestic league 12 times, winning their most recent title last season. AIK are also regulars in elite European competitions, and have entered the first round of qualifying for the 2019/20 Champions League.
“FC Copenhagen and AIK will provide a challenging set of matches against two teams that regularly compete in the Champions League and Europa League," NYCFC manager Domènec Torrent said.
"Our players will benefit greatly from these tests early on in the preseason as we look to mold the identity of our team heading into the 2019 season.”
NYCFC is majority owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s City Football Group, which also owns Premier League champions Manchester City and A-League club Melbourne City.