After refusing to play a World Cup qualifier on turf or temporary grass last cycle, U.S. Soccer softened their stance this time around: temporary grass got the thumbs up. Unfortunately.
While a good grass surface has always been preferable to turf, temporary grass surfaces have always been a nightmare. They are bumpy and have seams, but worst of all, because it doesn't have roots and just sits on plastic trays, it slides so much that the footing for the players is unpredictable.
Several MLS players have told me that they would prefer playing on turf than on temporary grass. Quite simply, they would rather have stable, secured footing on a harder surface than have no idea what they are going to get out of the ground beneath them.
Yet despite this, there is still some weird belief that grass -- any grass -- is better than turf. That is why this Tuesday's World Cup qualifier in Seattle will be played on a temporary grass surface, a surface that drew the ire of Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Knighton after his team played the Sounders on it Saturday night.
"Not to make excuses, but the field was ridiculously terrible. It’s heavy, it’s bumpy, the turf's coming up, and it’s just a weird surface to play on. Anytime you put grass on top of turf you are going to get something like that."
Knighton went on to say that teammate Andy O'Brian's injury was a result of the temporary grass, something that obviously cannot be proven, but will hardly go in the surface's "pro" column. The field didn't look any better on Sunday when the media got to walk the field.
CenturyLink grass: twitter.com/SoccerInsider/…— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) June 9, 2013
That is what a World Cup qualifier is going to be played on, and not by circumstance, but by choice. The USSF chose to go to CenturyLink Field in Seattle, a stadium that has a turf surface. That alone can be defended, especially with a crowd of over 40,000 dressed in red, white and blue expected to be on-hand. But then they made another choice to lay down grass over the turf as if the last decade of temporary grass surfaces hasn't given them enough reason to kill the "grass is always better" meme.
Two decisions, one awful field.