TUKWILA, Wash. — One of the most anticipated matchups of the MLS Cup playoffs will be seen in a less-than-ideal setting.
The Seattle Sounders will host the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field (10 pm ET, NBCSN), but football markings will be highly visible. The reason for it? The NFL's Seattle Seahawks host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following afternoon.
“[Fans] should be prepared for a football field pretending to be a soccer field,” Sounders general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer told reporters on Thursday. “It’s the unfortunate reality of a two professional-team stadium with the timing. We probably could’ve avoided this if we had done a little better job collecting points toward the end of the season.”
The last time the Sounders had to play with football markings was during the first leg of last year’s Western Conference Semifinals against Real Salt Lake.
Although the Sounders have made progress in terms of being able to switch the field from a soccer pitch to a gridiron and vice versa, they usually need at least 18 hours. Hanauer said the turnaround was just too short in this instance. The field would need to be playable for the Seahawks less than 12 hours after the MLS game ends.
With forecasts predicting about a 90 percent chance of rain between the two games, Hanauer explained there’s a significant risk that the paint would not have time to dry if applied after the Sounders game.
“The only way around it is creating massive risk for a nationally televised NFL game,” Hanauer said. “Again, in the weighted risk, I understand why this is where we’re at with this solution. That said, we are going to continue to push and try to figure out ultimately over time whether there are technologies, work force opportunities, creative solutions to never have this happen. But for now, it is what it is.”