Injuries threaten to kill Whitecaps 2015. Is plastic grass to blame?

October 13, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2015 | 2 Comments
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The Vancouver Whitecaps recently looked capable of challenging for the MLS Supporter’s Shield this season, but a spate of muscle and tendon injuries have slowed the Whitecaps down from a healthy trot to a virtual crawl. Competitors in the Western and Eastern Conferences look like flying past them in the standings. Is the plastic grass at BC Place to blame?

Octavio Riveiro is nursing a sore Achilles, Mauro Rosales has a pulled groin, Pa Modou Kah has a pulled groin, Nico Mezquida has a pulled hamstring, Pedro Morales has a pulled hamstring, Steven Beitashour is nursing a sprained knee, and Christian Techera has pulled a leg muscle.

While it is true football teams will accrue injuries as the season goes along, my view is the plastic grass at BC Place has taken a huge toll on our squad, which is now decimated to the point where an early exit from the playoffs looks sadly likely. A strong Whitecaps starting eleven is now a mediocre one at best due to injuries.

There are plenty of apologists, including the Vancouver Whitecaps own top brass, for plastic grass. The opinions of the Whitecaps brass are informed by a lack of choice in the matter, however. You cannot grow a good grass pitch in BC Place, and there is nowhere else for the Whitecaps to play.

There are even “scientific studies” which claim to demonstrate that plastic grass causes no more injuries than natural grass. In my view they are not worth the paper they are written on. Anyone who has played on grass pitches and on plastic grass will tell you that plastic grass is much harder on the body.

Pedro Morales, our best player by a country mile, has had a terrible season with muscle and tendon injuries. Morales suffers from back muscle problems, and playing on plastic grass has been a disaster for him. This season he has had back, calf and hamstring problems.

The world’s best teams refuse to play their squads on plastic grass for a reason. They refuse to do so because plastic grass causes muscle and tendon injuries and makes existing injuries even worse.

While Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa recently towed the MLS company line and refused to criticize Vancouver’s plastic surface, is there any real doubt about how they truly feel? Recently LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena spoke before a recent fixture with Seattle about how he had to “dumb down” his team’s playing style because of Seattle’s plastic pitch

Interesting to note that while Seattle plays on a plastic grass field for their home games, they train on a beautiful grass pitch at the Starfire Soccer complex outside of Seattle. In my view if the Whitecaps are forced to play their home matches on plastic grass they should conduct all training on grass to save the players from greater injury risk.

In my view there is no coincidence the Whitecaps starting eleven are dropping like flies; their bodies are feeling the ill effects of playing and training on plastic grass.

All of this demonstrates the need to resurrect the vision of a soccer specific stadium for the Vancouver Whitecaps with a proper grass playing surface.



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  1. I dislike imitation (or plastic) grass fields because of how they impact the playing of the game (too bouncy, too fast) It is obvious that the surface affects players from an injury perspective through the injuries they sustain and hamper further when trying to recover. Knees, ankles, achilles etc. However, plastic pitches are supposedly easier to maintain and in Vancouver’s winter more games are playable than those scheduled on poorly constructed grass fields. At the MLS level though, at least, all games should be played on grass pitches if MLS wants to be known as a world class league.

  2. I have played on both and other than the heat that can radiate on turf I see no real negative about turf. Furthermore I tend to actually believe in facts and science (not personal bias) and the studies show there is no significant difference. Usually if a team in any sport suffers a statistically significant amount of injuries (and has that even been proven as a fact with the Whitecaps?) the root cause is usually training and fitness.

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