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Toure injury scare the talking point of Whitecaps-MCFC match

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Sometimes, you just have to wonder if artificial surface is preferable to temporary grass fields.

Manchester City beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Monday night in their Herbalife World Football Challenge friendly at Empire Field. But the talk of the match won’t be the audacious strike from Shaun Wright-Phillips that gave Man City the win. It won’t be on an impressive performance by the Whitecaps’ regular starters, who played the first half and earned a 1-0 lead before giving way to the depth guys on the squad.

No, the talk will be about how Manchester City will have to sweat on the status of star midfielder Yaya Toure. (UPDATE: Reports suggest Toure will miss three to four days, so Man City dodges a bullet)

Late in the first half, Toure and Whitecaps’ defender Michael Boxall both leapt for a ball that was lofted just in front of Vancouver’s penalty area. Toure got his studs caught in the thick, soft temporary grass pitch, and went down in agony. He was helped off the field, unable to put any weight on the injured leg. And, judging by the media sources, the injury is either to the ankle or the knee.

Now, the injury could be minor, and this is much ado about nothing. (The initial reports, again, suggest less than a week out of action). But the temporary pitch, which couldn’t hold up to the rain over the weekend and forced the postponement of a league match against Real Salt Lake, was only deemed playable hours before the match.

The rain was a major factor, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen a temporary grass pitch provide a terrible surface for a game. Think back to Canada’s opening game at the Gold Cup, a loss to the United States in Detroit. A temporary grass pitch was laid down at Ford Field, and played like a community field where the grass hasn’t been cut for a couple of weeks. The dead grass was thick, slow and treacherous.

Now, it’s almost a given that facilities that have FieldTurf or the products of one of the rival companies will need to put grass over it in order to host a major European side or international match.

You will get no argument here that the best and (should be) only surface for soccer is living natural grass. But, on the evidence before us, it can be argued that artificial turf is preferable to those thick, uneven temporary grass set-ups.

Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, which had crews working round the clock at Empire Field to repair the grass and dry out the pitch, the talk on the European news services are all about Toure’s injury. That isn’t the kind of PR you want from a friendly. (Of course, MLSsoccer.com’s writeup didn’t mention the injury… see it HERE)

It overshadowed what was a very good showing by the Whitecaps, whose regulars could only see a half of action as the club has an important date with Nana Attakora and the San Jose Earthquakes Wednesday.

New Designated Player Mustapha Jarju got his first run-out as a Whitecap, and Camilo, moved back to the No. 10 role as the attacking midfielder, looked more than comfortable. Jarju drew a foul that led to a Camilo free kick that forced Man City keeper Joe Hart into an outstanding save.

Camilo got the opener later in the half, as his shot deflected off defender Stefan Savic and past Hart.

With most of the Whitecaps’ regular off the slow pitch in the second half, Man City mounted its comeback, with John Guidetti heading home a cross from Andrea Mancini (manager Roberto Mancini’s son), setting up Wright-Phillips for the wonder strike that gave Whitecaps’ keeper Jay Nolly no chance.

While the Whitecaps played their bench troops in the second half, it needs to be stated that Man City’s scorers weren’t players you would expect to play in many Premiership matches this season.

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