On Wednesday night, the United States Men's National Team will take on confederation rivals Honduras and what should be a closely-contested match to decide which team makes it to the final of the Gold Cup, to be played in Chicago on Sunday. Both semifinals (Mexico v. Panama the other one) will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team.
The stadium, which opened in 2009 with a construction cost of $1.3 billion, features a capacity of 105,000 people and an artificial turf field. The Gold Cup semifinals will get rid of the turf in favor of natural grass, which sounds good, right? Not in this case.
When the United States played Panama in Seattle just over a month ago, artificial grass was laid over the artificial surface at CenturyLink Field and while the initial worries were there, the surface did a decent job and played relatively well. The surface at Cowboys Stadium will be different because this time around, instead of laying the grass on top of the already-existing artificial base, it's going onto the concrete underneath said turf.
Kasey Keller, who has taken on the role of goalkeeper coach during this stage of the Gold Cup, had some thoughts on the surface. The former Portland Timbers, Millwall, Leicester City, Tottenham, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Seattle Sounders, among others, goalkeeper spoke to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated about the field, saying that "it seems like concrete on top. Hard. Real hard."
On Tuesday, the press were allowed access to the field and the surface did not get good reviews from those on hand.
The grass surface at Cowboys Stadium looks a bit...iffy. pic.twitter.com/IB47wtiJZf— Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) July 23, 2013
Terrible field in Dallas for Gold Cup pic.twitter.com/Qwk5WfH3Rd— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) July 23, 2013
Pile of green sand to fill in grass gaps in Dallas pic.twitter.com/jDQfpwz58f— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) July 23, 2013
Whether Stu Holden will see a part of the action still has not been determined. After playing 238 minutes over four straight games, the Bolton Wanderers midfielder was left on the bench by Jurgen Klinsmann as the Americans beat El Salvador 5-1 in the quarter-final.