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Notebook: Pitch issues at Allianz Field assist in home field advantage.

The pitch issues over the past few months have gotten worse, but in the end helped the home field advantage Minnesota had over LAFC

September 29, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - An MLS match between Minnesota United and Los Angeles Football Club at Allianz Field (Photo: Tim C McLaughlin)
September 29, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - An MLS match between Minnesota United and Los Angeles Football Club at Allianz Field (Photo: Tim C McLaughlin)

Minnesota United drew 1-1 with Los Angeles Football Club on Sunday night at Allianz Field in St. Paul. Albeit on a very very poor pitch at home, probably the worst that’s been seen all season long. Head Coach Adrian Heath made the statement in his post match press conference that while it’s been difficult it has been part of the home field advantage.

“[The home field advantage] It’s good for us and let me tell you, we can say it now but the field is coming up. It’s been tough. This has been a difficult stretch on the field and I don’t think it’s helped us at times when we want to move the ball quickly, but hey, it is what it is. We’ve had to get on with it. It’s been the same for both teams and I think it helped us late on.”

“It’s strange because it looks like it was picking up after about two or three months and then it suddenly died on us. It’s something that we’ve not wanted to make too much of an issue about. It’s not ideal but it is what it is. It hasn’t stopped us from winning games. Heath stated post match.

Angelo Rodriguez had plenty of chances to score on the oddly playing turf but he iterated that it didn’t affect his scoring chances. “There is no excuse. I repeat, anxiety got the best of me tonight. It’s rare but I accelerated too much in one occasion and others the goalkeeper stopped. We must stay calm, we played and that’s the most important thing. We are getting our rhythm and we all know there is healthy competition within the team and one must win their spot to play.”

Michael Boxall agreed with Heath on the pitch condition helping Sunday night against LAFC.

“They move the ball around well. I’d like to say we’re used to our home field, but you don’t get used to that. So, I think anything that stifles them a little bit, we can’t argue with that.”

When asked about how long this is an issue Boxall stated.

“I think, I mean, there was a time during the middle of the season when it was settled and quite firm. And then, I’m not too sure what happened. But, I mean, it’s not an excuse. Whatever surface we’ve got, we just have to get out there and play. I’m still happy it’s there and not TCF [Bank Stadium].”

The Allianz Field pitch is however being replaced over the next two weeks as the club was not able to do it earlier in the season due to the compact schedule and the time needed for the turf to set. Originally this was not set to be done until after the season ended completely but with the grass being available now the club is going ahead with the replacement. With a few weeks off before the UST/SJU football game and a possible MLS Cup Playoffs match it looks to be perfect timing for replacing it. The issue at the end of the day is the field is sitting on water due to the drainage system being blocked from an issue that happened during construction.

Minnesota United finishes up the 2019 MLS Regular Season on Sunday, October 6th at 3:00 PM against Seattle Sounders in Seattle. The Decision Day 2019 match could put Minnesota anywhere from 2nd to 5th place depending on the result. A win clinches both a home playoff match but also the second seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Drawing with Seattle will place the Loons no lower then 3rd as they have the tiebreaker over Sounders. A loss on the other hand means that Minnesota will need some pretty massive help in securing a home playoff match.