SEATTLE - Seattle Sounders players worked out for the second time on the brand new FieldTurf at CenturyLink Field on Monday, and the stadium’s revamped playing surface drew rave reviews from all involved.
Last week First & Goal, Inc. announced the completion of the new surface at CenturyLink Field, the Revolution 360 FieldTurf. The new turf is an improved version of the market leading fiber and is also currently installed at Detroit’s Ford Field, Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, New England’s Gillette Stadium and Portland’s Providence Park.
“Night and day … It’s great,” Sounders captain Brad Evans said of the new turf. “I think it actually plays really nice. The turf before was so matted down, definitely bouncy when it was wet; it didn’t play true. But this one, even though it was wet [Sunday], I think it played pretty true.”
The Sounders will play their first match on the new FieldTurf against Club America in the first leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday (7 p.m. PT; FS1/Univision Deportes/KIRO 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM).
Forward Clint Dempsey was also pleased with the turf, telling reporters that “it feels a lot better. It’s a little bit more soft, so when you’re planting it feels a little easier on your joints.”
One downside to the new FieldTurf however, might be the advantage lost when hosting teams that weren’t used to playing on the surface in previous seasons.
“I think last year’s turf was more of an advantage for us,” Evans said. “Just the way that it played, I think teams were shell-shocked when they came in here. Teams wouldn’t even travel; certain players wouldn’t even travel to come play here. I think that says something about the old turf.”
On the flip side, Evans also noted some nuances about the new FieldTurf that could play into the Sounders’ hands.
“I think we have some tinkering to do with the amount of sand and the amount of rubber, because it is a long turf,” he said. “It’s a good couple of inches, so toying with the depth and how we want to play on it will be key moving forward.”
According to head coach Sigi Schmid, however, the Sounders won’t have to be worried about losing their turf advantage, because the real benefit at CenturyLink Field comes from a different source.
“Our advantage is our 40,000 fans that come,” said Schmid. “The turf has played a part in the past but our real advantage is our crowd, our fans and our atmosphere ... That’s our advantage.”