Tuesday July 23rd, 2013

A world-class football venue, Cowboys Stadium is apparently not the best place to play soccer.
A world-class football venue, Cowboys Stadium is apparently not the best place to play soccer.
AP

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first hint that something might be amiss with the temporary grass field for Wednesday's Gold Cup semifinals came when I saw the pile of green sand at Cowboys Stadium. It's for filling the gaps in the seams of the field, which are just one of the reasons CONCACAF should be embarrassed over the playing surface.

Up close, the field is atrocious. It looks a bit like what might happen if you asked a friend with no prior knowledge to perform hair-transplant surgery on you.

But it's not just about the visuals. It's also about the feel. Unlike most temporary grass surfaces, which are usually laid over an artificial-turf base, the one at Cowboys Stadium is laid directly over concrete. "It seems like concrete on top," U.S. goalkeepers coach Kasey Keller told me as he checked out the surface. "Hard. Real hard."

As the U.S. prepares to meet Honduras in the first semifinal on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer, UniMas, Univision Deportes), coach Jurgen Klinsmann wasn't very happy either. The U.S. press conference took place before he saw the field, but you could see Klinsmann shaking his head visibly as he walked on the grass for the first time.

All you can hope is that the pitch won't affect the games too much and won't cause any injuries to players. But CONCACAF has to get its act together and make sure it picks suitable venues for its showpiece event. The Gold Cup can't just be about making money.

U.S. looks to extend winning streak in Gold Cup semifinals

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