Totonto FC coach Ryan Nelsen said today that the CenturyLink Field FieldTurf is bad enough where it could figure into the selection of his roster when the Reds visit on Saturday. (The comment comes around the 6-minute mark in the video above.)
Coach Sigi Schmid was asked about the comment: "Let me say this first: Tell me which turf field is good in this league. There’s no good turf field in this league. Portland’s not a good turf field. Portland’s blades lay down; they don’t stand up anymore. They play women’s soccer there, they play their reserve team there, they practice there, they play they’re men’s team there. So we have football on ours, but theirs gets as much use. So there field isn’t better. Vancouver’s field isn’t better. New England’s field isn’t better. I’m trying to think, have I missed a turf field? ... I think all the fields – Vancouver’s, ours and Portland and for that matter New England are all in about the same year of cycle, and it’s not like one’s better than the other. So I don’t disagree necessarily with Ryan’s statement. I’d love to have a brand-new turf this year, as would everybody else. 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, whichever way you want to look at it."
While turf certainly seems to influence play, Schmid was asked if it is actually more dangerous.
"I think when you train on it you build up adjustments to it," he said. "I think when you look at the injury rate – there are other people who 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 – was dangerous as well in terms of people turning and ankle, stepping in a hole. So there’s dangers involved in that field. A good field is a good field. A good grass field is the ideal. 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 more out of you, per se. And certainly a guy with a chronic knee issue or things 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."
The CenturyLink surface is beginning its third MLS season of use. Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer had said earlier that the decision wasn't a matter of cost, but a decision that the current turf is still of good enough quality.