Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen made an interesting comment to his local reporters Monday, indicating that he might not play some of his recovering stars Saturday due to the artificial turf at CenturyLink Field.
“You’ve got not just an artificial field — it’s a bad artificial field,” Nelsen told reporters.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid responded to that after Monday’s practice:
“Let me say this first, tell me which turf field is good in this league. There is no good turf field in this league. Portland’s blades lay down. They don’t stand up anymore. They play women’s soccer there. They play the reserve team there. They practice there. They play their men’s team there. We have football on ours, as well, but theirs gets as much use. So their field isn’t better. Vancouver’s field isn’t better. New England’s field isn’t better. … All the fields, I think Vancouver’s, ours, Portland’s and for that matter New England are all on about the same year in the cycle, and it’s not like one is better than the other.
“I don’t disagree, necessarily, with Ryan’s statement. I’d love to have brand-new turf this year, as would everybody else. But I disagree with the point of making it seem like Seattle’s is worse than the others. I think the others are equally as good or as bad — however you want to look at it. So if theirs are good, ours is good. If ours is bad, theirs are bad.”
[Ed note: It appears the Timbers have installed new FieldTurf ahead of the 2014 season. I haven’t found a direct link to a news story, but it’s noted on the team website.]
One part of Nelson’s comment, of course, was indicating that it might be an injury risk to play on such a surface. So what does Schmid think about that side of the issue?
“I think when you train on it, you build up adjustments to it,” Schmid said. “I think when you look at the injury rate, there are other people that study that stuff. I don’t know if the injury rate is higher or lower. I think we all prefer to play on natural grass, but playing on bad natural grass… Playing at UW last night where the field was coming up all over the place is dangerous, as well, as far as people turning an ankle or stepping in a hole. So there are injuries involved in that field also. A good field is a good field. A grass field is ideal — a good grass field. A good turf field is not more dangerous than a bad grass field, necessarily.
“It takes more out of your body. I’m not going to disagree with that. It does take more out of your body. That’s why we train a lot on grass, and we try to avoid training on turf, because of those reasons. But it’s also a situation that at the end of the day, when you’re not used to it, it seems to take even a little out of you, per se. Certainly a guy with a chronic knee issue or something like that, yeah, it’s going to be tougher for them to play on turf than it is to play on grass, without a doubt.”
Schmid did ultimately conceded there is probably one artificial turf field worse than the rest, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, the site of Seattle’s Week 3 game: “I hear that one’s really bad. … That might be the worst. There might be one that’s worst.”
Posted below is a series of tweets from Portland owner Merritt Paulson on the issue: