Union’s Curtin praises Yankee Stadium pitch, defends dimensions

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

BRONX, N.Y. – Yankee Stadium’s soccer configuration continues to be in focus for expansion side, New York City FC.

Two weeks ago, Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes took aim at the field dimensions, definitively declaring that the pitch was “68 by 106 yards.” Such a claim goes against the word of team operators and ownership who insist the field meets international and league standards at 70 yards in width.

Thursday night, NYCFC received backing for their claim — from an unlikely source.

Fresh off of a road draw at Yankee Stadium, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin debunked the assumptions of his Sporting KC colleague.

“It is narrow,” Curtin concedes, “but I am a tall guy and I have long strides, and by my measurements,  it’s a legit 70 yards.”

Speculation of the field dimensions were a heavy talking point after the team’s 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Thursday evening, particularly due to the apparent congestion at midfield that seemed to derail the attack for both teams.

For as influential as the cozy field was for both sides, ball movement stole most of the focus. Several crosses and passes seemed to stop dead in mid-roll, disrupting the flow of the match.

The reason? Curtin believes the Yankee Stadium ground crew may have been overzealous with their turf treatment.

“They watered the field so it was slick which is good in a lot of ways, but I think in certain spots, it was almost over-saturdated,” he explained. “The ball would kind of get stuck in the water.”

While acknowledging that it “was a factor” in the match, the Union boss was careful not to use the issue as an excuse. “Same for both teams though, so it’s an issue both team’s dealt with, but there were moments where the ball’s traveling on the ground, flying into you, and all of a sudden, it would slow down a lot, and a couple of balls got picked off in the beginning of the game.”

The Yankee Stadium field underwent its first three day conversion following the team’s home series against the Boston Red Sox; a home stand that included an epic extra-inning battle just six days ago.

Despite the short turnaround, the sod did not lift nor did the infield interfere during the match — and for the third match in a row, fears of turf issues dissipated.

“It’s a little strange in that your … depth perception is off a little bit because there is more space on the sideline than you are used to,” Curtin explained, before offering that “It wasn’t a turf issue,”

“The field was good.”

  • Chris

    Field looks much worse on tv than it is in reality..

    • Well, the TV angles may have something to do with that too. Horrendous.