SEATTLE – The U.S. Men’s National Team plays Tuesday night in Seattle.
Most eyes will be on the players on the field, and what lies directly underneath their feet.
The stadium brought in temporary sod for the highly anticipated match as it has done for friendly international matches in the past. The grass was laid down directly on top of the existing field turf. Players have practiced now for a couple of days and have been less than impressed.
“It's not ideal,” said U.S. Soccer star Michael Bradley just before practice on Monday.
“When you run fast, when you stop, it’s like the whole grass is moving. It’s just different,” said Fabian Johnson.
“It’s a little bit sticky, yeah,” said Terrence Boyd, who still tried to find a compliment. “I’ve played on worse fields, so this is a nice field.”
A spokesperson for the Seahawks and Sounders did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment.
Howard Nakase, who manages ground operations at the University of Washington, says field management can be tricky and time is important.
“If they had enough time to get the grass to knit in so it doesn’t move around or pull up,” said Nakase. “If it’s not knitted in, it’s going to move around a little bit.”
He agrees with CenturyLink officials who have claimed in the past that it would be difficult to maintain a permanent grass surface at the stadium.
“There is a thatch layer that kind of provides the resiliency for the grass to survive and a cushion for athletes to run on," said Nakase, “The grass is going to have a hard time taking all that traffic with little sunshine and little temperatures.”
More than a 36,000 people are expected at CenturyLink to watch the game Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Mariners play across the street at 7:10 p.m.