De Rosario: Turf BMO turf

Dwayne De Rosario has been the most vocal player about the artificial playing surface at BMO Field....

Dwayne De Rosario has been the most vocal player about the artificial playing surface at BMO Field. (Sun Media/Greg Henkenhaf)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

Dwayne De Rosario is real mad that his employer is paying for real grass for Real Madrid's visit to BMO Field this summer.

And the Scarborough-born midfielder, who believes the FieldTurf system at BMO has hampered his homecoming, wonders why the bosses can't leave the good greenery in place after Aug. 7 for the club's future Major League Soccer games.

NO RESPECT

De Rosario is by no means the only TFC player to complain about the crusty FieldTurf in the club's three-year history, but he has been the most vocal. This week's confirmation that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. will truck in grass at $250,000 to placate Spanish soccer royalty was like a slap in the face.

"What does that mean for myself, a player for TFC, that we don't get that respect?" De Rosario said yesterday as TFC prepared for tomorrow's (4 p.m.) home game versus the Los Angeles Galaxy. "It's one of those things you look at as a player and you're just disappointed.

"We work hard every day here, we try hard, day in and day out. We deserve grass. The stadium is spot on, MLSEL has done a good job putting together a great organization, but we need the real turf. We should keep it and see after a couple of games what the difference is."

Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and COO of MLSEL, said De Rosario's comments have not fallen on deaf ears. But as part of the agreement to build BMO, it must be a year-round facility, which real grass would not allow.

"We're working on the idea of converting it as quickly as possible," Anselmi said. "But we have to work with other partners (such as The City of Toronto and board of Exhibition Place). Everyone is familiar with the issues, how do we compensate for the loss of community use, where do we put the winter sports bubble ... about all we know is we're paying for the conversion."

Anselmi said it would be "difficult" to keep the loose grass in for awhile as De Rosario suggested, given its short shelf life and the lack of home games in August after Real Madrid. With the New York Red Bulls game shifted to June 13 to accommodate Madrid, an Aug. 15 game against D.C. United is the only other at BMO until Sept. 12.

De Rosario and others don't see anyone being happy there as long as fake turf is in place.

"Soccer has come to a level in this country now where we should give it the respect it deserves," De Rosario said. "It is very rare in a professional environment that random clubs, anyone and everyone, can just come in and use the facility.

"Hopefully, we get grass in here. Not only the players deserve it, but the fans deserve it, too."

Coach Chris Cummins sympathized with his players, but held off joining their chorus.

"I'm one of those people who don't find excuses," Cummins said. "We know it's here, it's not the greatest turf in the world and everyone is aware of that. If the grass gets put down, great, the lads will be a lot happier. But we have to get on with it, that's what footballers are like."

Cummins has bigger problems at present, coming off two lethargic road losses, 3-0 to Houston in MLS play and a crippling 2-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer League that put TFC on the brink of Nutrilite Canadian Championship elimination for a second year. TFC must beat the Montreal Impact by four on Wednesday on the road to survive.

Goaltender Stefan Frei is questionable for tomorrow's game with a foot infection, which could mean a rusty Greg Sutton gets another chance after a so-so start in Vancouver. Midfielder Carl Robinson is playing with a fractured finger and defender Nana Attakora joined Frei on the sidelines yesterday with an undetermined injury.


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