News Column

U.S. Up Against Panama in World Cup Qualifier

June 12, 2013

Tim Booth

soccer

Ask FIFA and the organization says it sees no problem with playing on a quality artificial field.

U.S. Soccer still does.

"I'd rather play on real grass over turf than to play on turf," U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said Monday.

Playing on a temporary grass field is the situation that will face the United States on Tuesday when its plays Panama in a World Cup qualifier at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.

The U.S. (2-1-1) improved to seven points in the 10-game final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region after winning at Jamaica last Friday, 2-1.

The U.S. trails Costa Rica (2-1-1) on goal difference and is ahead of Mexico (1-0-4) on goals scored.

In order to bring a World Cup qualifier to the Pacific Northwest - where artificial surfaces are almost required - putting down a temporary grass surface was a condition. Seattle obliged, but the surface was far from ideal.

"When you talk about playing home games in World Cup qualifying, especially for us, you'd like to be playing on a field where it's cut real short and you're able to get some water on the field before the game and that creates just a fast, wet surface that is conducive to how we want to play," U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said. "Look, clearly there are a lot of things that go into making these decisions. Seattle certainly deserves a game, but I think the field unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired."

A win over Panama coupled with a victory next week in Utah against Honduras could give the Americans control of the qualifying group.

The U.S. is 8-1-2 all-time against Panama, which is expected to be without leading scorer Blas Perez because of gastroenteritis.

"It's a huge game. We badly want three points in this game and then obviously next week in Salt Lake," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "Those are home games and they are must wins."

Bringing a qualifier to Seattle was a goal for U.S. Soccer, trying to capitalize on the resounding success of the Seattle Sounders in the MLS and arguably the league's strongest fan base. Dempsey noted that after the team arrived in Seattle on Saturday he went out for dinner and noticed TVs everywhere were tuned to the Sounders game against Vancouver.

World Cup qualifier

United States vs. Panama

9 p.m. Tuesday

TV: ESPN-25

Originally published by TIM BOOTH Associated Press.

(c) 2013 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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