Wherever their new stadium is, grass will be greener for Revolution
The Revolution are keeping quiet about potential stadium plans in Boston. This raises suspicion that either the effort has failed once again or things have progressed to a critical stage and they don’t want to jinx anything.
The Frontage Road/Widett Circle area remains the favorite for a site, though nobody is letting on.
But the Revolution are confirming that the stadium would have a grass surface.
Several MLS teams are playing on artificial turf — Atlanta, Minnesota, Montreal, the three Pacific Northwest squads, and the Revolution. Most of the soccer-specific stadiums built for MLS — including Minnesota’s, due to open next season — have grass.
Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium had natural surfaces from 1991 through 2006, the grass installed as a requirement for the area’s 1994 World Cup bid. Most of the time, the playing surface was adequate to superior, and it was durable.
In July 2003, there were 12 soccer games staged in a 16-day period, and the grass held up fine. Three of those dates were either doubleheaders or tripleheaders involving the Revolution and national teams competing in the Gold Cup.
In 2005, six soccer matches were contested in a 13-day span, but the surface deteriorated because of a combination of adverse weather, concerts, and the filming of the movie “The Game Plan,” and it was replaced by artificial turf in ’06.
Revolution coaches and players talk about being disheartened by the change, though they persevered and reached MLS Cup finals in ’06 and ’07. Revolution coaches have adapted to the synthetic surface, which added to the team’s home-field advantage partly because opposing players were reluctant to play on it. This has also added to the difficulty in recruiting players to the Revolution.
Jermaine Jones had questions about the turf and had to be convinced to join the Revolution in 2014. Opponents such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have either diplomatically avoided visits to Foxborough or flat-out refused to play there.
A natural surface at a new stadium might be welcomed by foes, who seem to be overcoming the Revolution’s home edge anyway. Plus, it could help the Revolution attract players.
Stop or go?
The Revolution almost scored the go-ahead goal in the final minutes of a 2-2 draw with the Fire last Saturday, but only after several players stopped in reaction to Chicago’s Bastian Schweinsteiger collapsing near the halfway line.
Schweinsteiger, who had been involved in a clash near the Revolution bench, was standing over the ball when he suddenly grabbed his head and fell. He apparently was expecting referee Joseph Dickerson to whistle the play dead, but instead, the Revolution’s Scott Caldwell took control and made a long run into the penalty area, only to lose possession. The Fire then played the ball out to allow Schweinsteiger to receive treatment in the 89th minute.
Schweinsteiger, clearly shaken up, was accompanied into the locker room immediately after the final whistle.
The incident brings into question when a referee should stop play. Normally, the action is supposed to be halted if a head injury occurs. Schweinsteiger’s delayed reaction, with no opponent close by, might have blurred cause and effect, but he was clearly suffering from a head injury.
“I got an elbow probably or, I don’t know, definitely something on the sideline,” Schweinsteiger said. “But, obviously, it’s allowed and then I just felt it, you know, and I just wanted to [go down]. Next time I obviously have to kick the ball away if I don’t feel that good.”
Schweinsteiger said Dickerson could have “handled it a little differently. To see the whole game, you have to also see the characteristics of the team. I don’t know about you, but if you see how [the Revolution] played, how many fouls they made — I’m OK with aggressiveness and all this stuff, but the numbers of the situation, I think you can handle the thing differently as a ref.
“Obviously, here it’s not like in Europe, the decision of referees and more things are allowed. Ask Zlatan.”
Caldwell said his intention was to “play to the whistle.” The Revolution’s Diego Fagundez scored the deciding goal in a similar situation, playing on through an injury, in a 1-0 victory over the Red Bulls in 2016, with New York coach Jesse Marsch terming the play “shameful.”
The Revolution (8-10-11, 35 points) are tied with D.C. United for seventh place, 5 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Five games remain in the regular season, and the Revolution will likely need to win at least one road game — starting with visits to Toronto FC Saturday and Atlanta United on Oct. 6.
Alphonso Davies’s $13.5 million transfer from the Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern Munich indicates the potential of young Canadian and US players. But much of the talent is emigrating on free transfers from North America to Europe.
There are 28 US players in Germany, with US U-17 defender Mason Judge (Eintracht Frankfurt) the latest to move.
Free, or cheap, transfers can go both ways, though MLS imports are likely to be older. MLS has been offered a 30-year-old former Bayern Munich defender on a free transfer. This should be a no-brainer, since this acquisition might become the best defender in the league. Stay tuned.