What. The top women’s soccer teams in the world are being forced to play on artificial turf for what looks like the majority of the WWC 2015. Ha, that’s funny, right? No, it’s not funny because it’s not a joke. It was revealed yesterday that tournament host Canada would have most of the games will be played on turf throughout the tournament.
Any soccer player, no, any athlete knows that turf does not begin to compare to natural grass. If you were to enter a room with 10 athletes from soccer, football, baseball, whatever sport, I guarantee every single one of them would raise their hand if you were to say, “Who enjoys playing on grass more than turf?”
Turf essentially changes the integrity of the game. Turf results in a different speed of play. Sure, touches might be smoother and there are no odd bumps on the field, but that doesn’t mean it’s a better surface than grass. Speed of play might be the least of the concerns as we look at the likelihood of injuries.
Turf causes serious burns if one goes in for a tackle or falls down. This happens repeatedly throughout a game of soccer as it is a physical sport and requires players to get “down and dirty”. These burns could easily lead to infection.
Secondly, injuries can get as severe as head and ACL injuries. There is a lot of falling down in soccer and I’m sure the last thing any team wants is one of the players to slam their head on the hard turf. Once a player steps on an artificial turf field, they are now prone to concussions when their head hits the ground.
Not only are concussions a major issue, the longevity of an ACL injury that could occur is also concerning. Turf is soft and can cause athlete’s ankles and knees to twist and torque repeatedly. Since the players are wearing cleats, turf “catches” the spikes and causes rotating to be more difficult and strenuous on the knee.
Lastly, one last concern is the temperature that turf can reach. According to livestrong.com, a test by a turf expert at the University of Missouri showed that on a 98 degree day, turf can reach up to 173 degrees. Now, when I looked at the venues, most are open roofed. When games are being played during a summer day, the heat that the players feel on the field will cause dehydration and fatigue during the most important sporting event of their careers.
These are not international friendly games. These are games to become a world champion. Someone needs to step in. I’m sure nobody wants to watch these games and hope that one of the players doesn’t get injured. These are the top women’s soccer teams in the world. Asking them to play on artificial turf is not only disrespectful to them, but it is dishonorable to soccer. This tournament is the moment athletes work for; they go all out for 4 years and when it comes time to finally play, the last thing they should have to worry about is the field.
The FIFA Ballon d’Or Player of the Year could easily be seen as the most prestigious award a soccer player could receive. The USWNT has four players as nominees—Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe. Each player has had one heck of a year.
Carli Lloyd- What a tournament she had. 4 goals to her name including the 2 goals against Japan, she fought her way back from being on the bench to starting and making an impact every time she took the field. Her physical play and ability to strike the ball with pace makes her one of the most lethal midfielders in the game. Scoring both goals in the final and the go ahead goal against France gives her a good chance at the award.
Megan Rapinoe- London 2012 was the tournament of her life. She had a spark about her that we hadn’t seen before. Her first goal against Colombia was one of the best goals of the tournament. The player of the match against Canada, Rapinoe rescued her team twice from the depths of defeat. Her rare Olímpico goal and burner from 18 yards out were the best goals of her career. She played a vital part of the team’s success in the Olympics and should be in the conversation for the winner.
Alex Morgan- Without a doubt Alex has had one of the best years in USWNT history. With 24 goals to her name and tied for first in assists in 2012, she has done it all at age 23. Her London games were nothing short of inspiring, scoring the latest goal in FIFA competition history. Along with Abby Wambach they have formed the most dynamic duo in the game. Her speed and skill has made her one of the best players to grace the game. Not only can she score, but she is an assist machine, with 4 at the Olympics. Without a doubt, she will be at least in the top 3 for consideration of this award.
Abby Wambach- Abby Wambach has also had a great year. She scored in 5 consecutive games in London, tying the Olympic record. She has scored 23 goals in 2012 including the vital penalty kick against Canada. A vocal leader on the field and a role model off, the soccer world has so much respect for Abby. She is only 10 goals away from Mia Hamm’s record. The most dominant player in the air, every team that defends her says all they can do is brace for a collision. 3rd place in last year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or, this could be the year she brings it home.
My Pick: There is no doubt Alex Morgan has had a year to be remembered, but Abby Wambach has had a season nothing short of spectacular. Being only 1 goal behind Alex this year and a constant scorer in the Olympics, tying the record for continuous goals in an Olympic games (5), rest assured Alex will have her time, but I believe Abby Wambach just edges out Alex Morgan for the player of the year. Abby sets high standards for herself and the team while still playing with the grace and respect of a true athlete. She has been nominated for 2 years in a row now, and it’s finally time for Abby Wambach to take home the FIFA Ballon d’Or Women’s Player of the Year award.