Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soccer on Grass...Again.

The New York Times' Goal blog has a nice update on the new Red Bulls Arena and the transition of the team to the new surface. Here is the key passage which concerns the Red Bulls star Juan Pablo Angel and his concerns about artificial turf:

Angel, the team’s career leading scorer, has often complained about the artificial turf at Giants Stadium, which exacerbated his nagging back problems... “Everyone knows I’ve been the biggest critic, I never liked the turf,” he said.

Yes, Giants stadium has the new, modern turf. So it is not a matter of what fake grass it is, it is a matter of fake grass, full stop.

Juan Pablo Angel has been perhaps the most successful foreign star to join the MLS. While not a superstar, he was a successful striker in the English Premier League and could have signed a very lucrative contract with a team in that league when he decided to come to the MLS. He immediately became the most dangerous striker in the MLS (and he is all class to boot). So if he is dissatisfied with the turf, it suggests that other high quality players will balk at signing with a team that plays on turf.

Something else for the Timbers to think about...


Torrid said...

That's interesting for what it's worth--an anecdotal comment by a player who's been on grass most of his pro career, and is now in the states coping with turf. He blames his back trouble on does he know? For that matter, how does his doctor know?

There have been scientific studies done on injury rates grass vs turf. The industry has sponsored some of them, so it's hard to know with are real and which are spurious--but that would really be the best way to evaluate the relative risk of turf vs grass.

Patrick Emerson said...

For what it is worth I have never made the injury claim as I doubt there is any longer much difference, though long term wear and tear may be different on the two surfaces.

Whether of not his back problems are a result of the turf is immaterial to my argument. As long as he thinks it is (and especially if he is vocal about it) and others do as well (or are convinced by Angel) the turf will dissuade these other players not already past their sell-by date from coming to a team that plays on turf.