If there’s one positive thing the San Jose Earthquakes can say about FieldTurf in MLS, it’s that after Saturday, they won’t have to see it again until next season.
The Quakes were not exactly so moved after last weekend’s scoreless draw with New England on the artificial surface of Gillette Stadium as to request owner Lew Wolff lay out faux grass on their own home field.
And it’s doubtful that view will change once the team is through playing the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field on Saturday.
“I think it hurts our game, especially with the guys we have,” Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon said of FieldTurf. “The more we play together, the more we’re enjoying holding the ball and possession. I feel for us it’s not a great surface because we’re forced to play a little more direct.
“With Ryan [Johnson] and Chris [Wondolowski] working hard up there, that’s not really a bad second option, but we’ve got players on this team, not just guys that are tough. We’ve got guys that can move the ball. It hurts the game a little bit, but both teams have to play on it and it is what it is.”
In Foxborough, the field was unusually thick with the black rubber pellets that are dislodged from a FieldTurf surface. Perhaps that’s why the ball seemed to slow suddenly during the game, making it hard for either team to string together long stretches of possession. It helped bog down a San Jose side that had scored 10 goals in their previous four matches.
“It was moving a little bit in warm-ups, and then was a little more bouncy and had more stickiness, if you will, come game time,” defender Bobby Burling said of the Revolution’s surface. “But we expected it. It could be a home-field advantage, but we’re not looking at it like that."
Things could be better in Seattle, especially if the prediction for potential showers comes to fruition, or if the Sounders decide to break out the hoses before kickoff.
“It’s not easy to play quick, attractive soccer on [FieldTurf],” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “But I think Seattle will probably wet their field, which will help our game as well. I think it was so dry up in New England that everyone seemed to be tripping over the ball and they couldn’t pass it quickly and sharply, like we’d like to. Seattle seem like they like to do that, too, so I think that we’re going to have a good game, I think we’re going to pass the ball better and I think we’re going to create chances.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes