US Open Cup: LA Galaxy, Arizona United dispute field dimensions, but eventually reach accord
CARSON, Calif. – In the end, it was an even playing field after all. More or less.
The LA Galaxy were diligent in their fight to ensure their US Open Cup opener Wednesday night in the Phoenix suburbs is played on a regulation field.
LA take on Arizona United SC of the USL PRO in a fourth-round battle at Peoria Sports Complex (10:30 pm ET, watch free on ArizonaUnited.com), looking to end a three-game losing streak in the competition and advance for the first time since 2011.
They'll be playing on a field that measures 110 yards long by 71 yards wide, which meets US Soccer's standards for the nation's oldest soccer competition. It required more back and forth than the Galaxy would have liked to make it happen.
"It's been a field that doesn't meet regulations," Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena told reporters before the team headed to Arizona. "We're told they're going to modify their field so it meets the minimum standards. [It's] too small."
Arena went on to say US Soccer – which runs the 101-year-old cup competition – wasn't doing enough due diigence to get the pitch up to standard, adding that the Galaxy were going straight to the supposedly reluctant USL PRO club to do so.
The Galaxy have experience on the field, which sits in a baseball stadium used by the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres during Spring Training. Their reserve team, LA Galaxy II, played Arizona United to a 1-1 tie in a USL PRO match in late April, "so we're aware of the situation there with the field and everything," Arena said.
The field will be up to code at kickoff Wednesday night. But not before a series of he-said-he-said between the clubs, repeated re-measuring of the pitch in question and the intervention of a third party. Here's how it went down:
Arizona United officials, asked about the dimensions, claimed the field always has been 110 by 71, and club owner/CEO Kyle Eng on Tuesday told MLSsoccer.com by phone that he did not believe the Galaxy "came out and actually measured it, so to make those kind of accusations on a first-year team who's trying to grow the sport of soccer in the Southwest, I think, is unfortunate."
He bristled at Arena's comment that his club had "not been amenable" to adjusting the dimension.
"To say that we have not been cooperative – we are honored to have these guys here, and we're doing everything we can to make their visit a good one, their experience a good one," Eng said. "They're at a level all of us aspire to be at. We're a team and a company and group that are just enthusiastic for soccer, and we haven't done anything to warrant these comments.
"I'm disappointed that he would stoop to that level to say that about us."
Except Arena was correct.
The Galaxy last week sent assistant coach Kenny Arena to Peoria to check on the field, and US Soccer says club president Chris Klein then emailed the federation that the field was 102 by 71 – the federation requires fields at least 110 by 68 – and asked why Arizona United were permitted to stage the game.
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Two days later, US Soccer told MLSsoccer.com, Arizona United general manager Kevin Stevenson told the federation the club had remeasured the field and it was 110 by 71. This was reported to the Galaxy, who disputed the claim, and Arizona United's operations manager then measured the field again and reported it was 108 by 71, according to the federation.
An "independent third party" took a look on Saturday, the federation said, and reported the field was 106 by 71. Stevenson on Monday said the club would reorient the field so it reached 110 yards, the USSF said.
And that's what happened. The Galaxy are happy, and so are Arizona United. Now all that's left is, you know, the actual game.