In 2014 and 2015, the Canadian Soccer Association took heat for hosting a Women’s World Cup on artificial surfaces. Several players, led by a cadre of prominent Americans, took their case to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal — a pursuit which was later abandoned.
Now, should the Americans also be subject to criticism for the 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament?
The United States is hosting the women’s CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympics. And Group B — which includes Canada — will be played at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium, on a grass field that will be subjected to international rugby just days before the soccer tourney kicks off. Remember that in late January of 2013, the Canadian men’s national team played the United States in Houston. And, many of the Canadian players mentioned the poor quality of the pitch in Houston — which is really a multipurpose facility that is also the home of the MLS’s Houston Dynamo and the NWSL’s Houston Dash. The stadium also played host to Gold Cup matches in 2015.
As well, that field is going to need to hold up over the course of five matchdays — including doubleheaders — played over the 11-day tournament. Playing all the Group B games, semifinal and final in one venue may make logistic/financial sense, but in sporting terms, that field is gonna take a beating.
But there’s no crying foul from the Canadians.
Canadian women’s national-team coach John Herdman said his team can’t control the playing conditions. “But the one thing we can control is how we adapt to it,” he added.
Herdman said his staff has looked at long-range weather forecasts for Houston, and the forecast is for mild temperatures and good playing conditions.
“We’ll take whatever pitch comes,” he said.
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