DC United lament poor pitch conditions in Toronto; MLSE rep says improvements planned
WASHINGTON – Toronto FC played their home opener at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon against D.C. United, trotting out a starting XI that included three players who'll likely represent their country at this year's World Cup. Perennial cellar-dwellers, the new-look TFC have been built largely around one idea: ambition.
After the opening whistle blew, however, it quickly became apparent that the players on the pitch might not be the star of the show, as a typically frigid winter in Ontario left much to be desired of the playing surface.
"The field was crap," D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson told MLSsoccer.com after training on Tuesday morning. "Absolute crap. As much as that team is ambitious, with the acquisitions they’ve made, you feel like the field would be in much better shape than that."
"It was a disaster," added forward Fabian Espindola. "An absolute disaster. There were holes, chunks of grass missing. It was as bad as any field I’ve ever played on."
Both teams seemed to struggle with the pitch at BMO Field, especially on the flanks. Several United players who walked the pitch prior to the match commented that they'd seen high school fields in better shape.
And while nobody at a snowy training session in D.C. on Tuesday was blaming the field for the eventual 1-0 loss, it was clear that the choppy playing surface didn't particularly help United's efforts.
"It was a big crowd," Johnson said, "a loud crowd, a crowd that wanted to see some quality football. Being part of this league, and playing in some of the soccer-specific stadiums we play on, I can say that pitch was in very, very, very, very bad condition."
When told of D.C. United's comments later on Tuesday by the Toronto Sun, a spokesman for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment said there were plans in place to improve TFC's home.
“We are aware of the comments from D.C. United and also of the fact that BMO Field requires a number of improvements to stay at a Major League Soccer level,” MLSE spokesman Dave Haggith told the Sun. “We have a proposal in front of the city, provincial and federal governments that will enable this city-owned facility to be upgraded so that Toronto, and its teams, continue to be viewed as world-class.”