Johnston in turf war

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston is not pleased over comments by Chicago Fire boss. (Sun File/Michael...

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston is not pleased over comments by Chicago Fire boss. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

DEAN McNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

The coach of the Chicago Fire has expressed fear that his players might get hurt playing on the artificial turf at BMO Field this week.

The Fire will meet Toronto FC Saturday in a Major League Soccer match at the new stadium but coach Dave Sarachan told the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday he would just as soon not play on the TFC pitch.

Sarachan said the concern comes from having played just three days ago (in New England) on an artificial surface and will do so again when his team meets New York Red Bull May 24.

"If we played on it a lot it would take its toll on our bodies,'' Sarachan said.

"The (artificial turf) product is different. It's harder, and we try to stay off of it as much as possible.''

TFC coach Mo Johnston yesterday scoffed at Sarachan's comments about the BMO field turf.

"I think Dave is really more concerned about having to play in a stadium with 20,000 screaming fans," Johnston said. "This is an absolutely safe turf. Our players play and practise here and none have had any complaints."

The Fire practises and plays on real grass at Toyota Park in Chicago.

Even Chicago team president John Guppy got in on the turf dispute.

"We'd all say grass is preferable,'' Guppy said.

"(Fake grass) keeps getting better, but it still plays a little differently. There's a mental aspect to playing on it.''

Johnston said the Chicago brass should not have any complaints about BMO.

"I would think they would be more concerned about playing in front of only 7,000 or 8,000 fans (in Chicago), than our turf in Toronto," Johnston said.

SALES PITCH

Not only has TFC sold out its season-ticket base of 14,500 seats, it also has sold out of team replica adidas products.

"(TFC) has created record demand for adidas designed team products three times higher than any other MLS team launch in history," adidas rep Steve Ralph said.

But the firm said even though orders have far outdistanced original estimates, a fresh supply will be in kiosks in time for Saturday's game.


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