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Did the bad pitch matter? We at least have to consider it

Oct 12, 2012, 11:32 PM EDT

Brian Sciaretta, who ardent U.S. Men’s National Team fans will know from his work at Yanks Abroad, showed the world a glimpse of the field in St. John’s, and it’s not pretty:


Charles what now?

That looks horrible. Per Sciaretta’s tweet, that’s from midfield at Vivian Richards Stadium.

Before we go denigrating the U.S. too much, he suggests, take a look at that pitch. Perhaps the U.S. should be thankful for what they got.

It does, however, beg a question: How did the teams combine for three goals in that slop? The answer to that is less important than the fact they did score three goals. While it’s true the teams could have had an easier time of it on a nice day (perhaps leading to more goals), scoring was not an issue on Friday night. The States scored as many goals in 90 minutes as they did in 180 versus Jamaica.

Go beyond the goals, consider the chances, and you see a similar story. This was a pretty typical U.S. performance, even in the adverse conditions. Eddie Johnson had three good chances. Michael Bradley hit a post. Herculez Gomez had two opportunities to worry Antigua and Barbuda only to see his touch fail him. Depending on how you want to count them, that’s four-to-six chances. It’s not as if the United States had been generating many more on good tracks.

The conditions of St. John’s cricket ground were part of Friday’s story, but they can’t be an excuse. Both teams had to play in them, and both teams proved capable of overcoming them. It was unclear the field gave either side an advantage, let alone dictated the result. Ultimately, the U.S. looked no different in a swamp than on dry land: Controlling, but struggling to convert possession into chances.

Bottom line: U.S. Soccer is a program that should be expected to overcome certain obstacles. Weather against a team that didn’t make last cycle’s third round might be the last of them.

Besides, it’s not like many people were taking up the Antiguan cause when they were subjected to a downpour in Tampa.

  1. Dan Haug - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    Yeah… both teams have to play on that pitch, but anyone who has played on a bad field knows that it can be a huge equalizer, negating the advantage strong of technical play. In this case, that means that a fast, athletic team like A&B gets a huge boost, because they don’t have to worry as much about the US beating them with skill on the ball.

    The match played out in just that manner. Quick touches, getting the ball into the box in the air where EJ could use his athleticism to beat the defenders to the ball.

    • dreadpirate82 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Exactly. When you are the better team, you never want inclement weather. It levels the playing field. Football fans in Kansas are excited about the bad weather because it multiplies their chances of beating Oklahoma State by about 1000. So now they have a 1% chance of winning. The US still should have won more handily, but it’s a legitimate factor.

  2. ksasama - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    playing on such field needs professionals and special tactics
    players must not be afraid of accidents to do well

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