Argentina’s players, coach Sabella no fans of sod at MetLife

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

The Argentine National Team flew in players from around the world to take part in a pair of friendlies on U.S. soil.

Their first taste of action on the field at MetLife made many wish they hadn’t come at all.

That was the message from coach Alejandro Sabella and various members of the Argentine side after their 0-0 draw against Ecuador Friday evening.

“The pitch wasn’t the best, especially for a team looking to play out of the back on the ground,” Sabella told reporters after match. “Every player had to adopt to it – not just our players, but the Ecuadorian players had to adopt to the pitch. You saw many times the ball didn’t get the type of potency it could have, as if the grass didn’t want to unstick the ball.

“It was like trying to get a golf ball out of a bunker for example,” he continued. “You hit it with your all and the ball (barely moves).”

Forward Gonzalo Higuain, who suffered an knee knock during the match, didn’t reserve his critique either. “The field wasn’t in normal conditions, not to play on after a long trip (to the U.S.),” he told reporters. “We had grass on top of grass. You step on it and your feet would sink in more so than usual.”

The Argentine squad did not blame the field conditions for the draw. From coach to players, credit was given to Ecuador for their speed and tenacity. Sabella conceded that their rival’s aggressive form forced him to revert to a 4-4-2 in order to contain Valencia and his teammates.

Nevertheless, the sod was an omnipresent distraction for the team.

“The second half at times we played better, achieved a better rhythm,” Higuain said. “But that field didn’t help any.”

Argentina now heads to St. Louis to face off against Bosnia and Herzegovina for their second friendly – this time in the confines of Busch – a baseball stadium.