March 7, 2012
Rogers' turf tricky for Reds, L.A.
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
Though the turf at the Rogers Centre is better than some expected, it still didn’t get rave reviews ahead of Wednesday’s big clash between TFC and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“Me personally, I don’t think we should be playing on it,” said Galaxy striker Robbie Keane matter-of-factly.
“These days we should be on grass pitches, I don’t think it’s good for us ... injury-wise it can be dangerous, it’s a shame that we’re actually playing on it, but at the end of the day, that’s how it goes.”
Added superstar teammate David Beckham: “It is not ideal. But it is the same for both teams. Ideally you want to play on grass, but at the end of the day this is the situation.”
Reds head coach Aron Winter said it looked better than when the Buffalo Bills were in town and counterpart Bruce Arena said it was decent.
“It’s OK. It’s not desirable, but it is what it is. Given the circumstances, whoever’s responsible did a pretty good job,” Arena said.
“Obviously the players on other teams would prefer not to be on surface, but they’ve done a good job of getting it ready.”
TFC keeper Stefan Frei said playing in the cavernous dome and on the turf should not be used as an excuse.
“It’s a bit different. There are some seams that you’re going to have to deal with ... you have to deal with every bounce with the utmost respect,” Frei said.
“The big blooper happening in front of you, especially on this field it could very well happen.
“(But) I say again it’s excuses, both sides have to deal with the exact same conditions, whether it be the light (and sightlines), whether it be the field. Whoever is going to deal with them better is going to have a good chance of winning the game.”
Something had to give when the game was moved from BMO Field in order to attract more fans, escape potentially tricky weather and make the event more of a spectacle.
That doesn’t mean the pitch doesn’t have any positives.
Reds forward Ryan Johnson said he was looking forward to seeing what speedster Joao Plata could do on a more lively field.
TORONTO FC ALWAYS GIVE GALAXY TROUBLE
Though Los Angeles is the defending MLS Cup champion, a perennial juggernaut and Toronto FC has traditionally struggled, don’t assume past meetings have been laughers.
On the contrary, over the past two seasons, the Reds have played LA to three 0-0 draws and a shocking 2-2 road draw last June.
The last meeting was the strangest one yet, with the since-traded Alan Gordon scoring in stoppage time after Juan Pablo Angel had done the same.
In an April meeting at BMO Field, the Galaxy hit the post three times, though the Reds had more shots on target and more corner kicks.
Neither side is looking at past history though.
“You can never rely on past success. Every game you have to treat with the same respect,” said keeper Stefan Frei.
“Every year is different,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who praised TFC for becoming a better squad.
“They were a different team from Game 1 to (the second game in Los Angeles). They look like a team that gained momentum at the end of the season. I think they’re a team that is much-improved from the end of the year and a team that’s going to have confidence.”
True and maybe, despite Frei’s protestations, recent success against the champs could come into play.
“They’re not unbeatable,” said Frei.
“It starts with matching intensity and then going a step above that and showing our class.”