I was intending to post some additional thoughts that I couldn’t get into my post about the Gold Cup games, but serious questions are being raised about the quality of the field (or what soccer fans call “the pitch”) at Cowboys Stadium ahead of tonight’s games. Previous stadiums where Team USA played in Seattle and Baltimore rolled grass sod over artificial turf to provide a playing surface, but it seems that Cowboys Stadium has rolled it directly over concrete. The pitch looks and feels really bad, say Fox Soccer’s Leander Schaerlaeckens and Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, who also tweets a photo of a pile of green sand used to fill in the gaps in the sod at Cowboys. What’s strange is that pitch issues haven’t always been a problem, as World Soccer Talk points out. Of course, we won’t really know how well the field works until the games are played, but I’m having queasy visions of that dirt field in Washington eating Robert Griffin III’s knee last January.
It’s too bad. Cowboys Stadium was built for the Cowboys, yes, but Jerry Jones also intended it to host high-level soccer games. U.S. Soccer, the governing body that runs the sport in America, is already reluctant to have Team USA play games in this area because bitter previous experience has shown that when USA plays a regional opponent here, fans from the opposing country (whether that’s Mexico or some other Central American or Caribbean nation) outnumber American fans at the stadium. For the same reason, U.S. Soccer doesn’t like to have Team USA play home games in Houston or L.A. This semifinal round is North Texas’ chance to prove that this area can give Team USA a home-field advantage. If the pitch is no good, that’s not going to help convince U.S. Soccer to schedule more games here.
It also might very well hinder Team USA more than any other team. The national side has been playing up-tempo, high-energy, fast-paced soccer during its nine-game win streak. It’s hard to imagine USA scoring a goal like this beauty from Brek Shea against Costa Rica if the field resembles a potato patch. Well, here’s hoping the condition of the pitch will improve enough by game time so that nobody on USA, Honduras, Mexico, or Panama comes out of this on a stretcher.