Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Beckham, Keane Not Pleased with Rogers Centre Turf for Champions League Game: Players Not Pleased with Rogers Centre Turf

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Beckham, Keane Not Pleased with Rogers Centre Turf for Champions League Game: Players Not Pleased with Rogers Centre Turf

Article excerpt

TORONTO - The loud crowd and large stadium has all the makings of a big-game atmosphere.

The only thing missing is the natural grass, say two of soccer's biggest stars.

Both David Beckham and Robbie Keane griped about the artificial turf they'll play on Wednesday night when their Los Angeles Galaxy battle Toronto FC at Rogers Centre, in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals.

"It's not ideal, but it's the same for both teams," Beckham said. "Ideally you want to play on grass, but at the end of the day, this is the situation. And at least it's a touch warmer (than outdoors at BMO Field)."

Toronto FC opted to hold the game at Rogers Centre because of the problems winter weather could pose at BMO Field, the team's home stadium. The teams will play on the same artificial turf field used for Toronto Argonauts games, although the football hash marks have been removed and the field has been lined for soccer.

Keane was more critical in his assessment.

"I don't think we should be playing on a plastic pitch," said the Irish striker who joined the Galaxy last August. "I think these days, it should be grass pitches. I don't think it's good injury-wise, I think it can be dangerous. So it is a shame that we're playing on it.

"But at the end of the day we have to do it, it's the way it goes. It's the same for both teams, it just depends on who plays on it better."

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Toronto FC officials did a decent job on the field, given the circumstances.

"It's not desirable, but it is what it is," Arena said. "Obviously I don't think the players on either team would prefer to be on this surface, but they've done a good job getting it ready."

Toronto FC players, for their part, are also less than enthusiastic about the turf. When asked what he thinks of the field, Toronto head coach Aron Winter would only say: "It's green."

The star-studded Galaxy, including Beckham, Keane and U.S. captain Landon Donovan, tested out the pitch Tuesday ahead of Wednesday night's match, which is expected to draw a capacity crowd of 45,000.

Toronto and L.A. will play the second leg March 14 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in front of a considerably smaller crowd of 7,500, due to rules the stadium has about events on school nights.

Beckham, who's clearly no stranger to big games and big crowds, said he plans to soak up the atmosphere at Rogers Centre.

"It'll be great, these are the stadiums that you want to play in, you want to play in front of 45-, 50,000 fans, whether they're going to be for you or against you, it doesn't matter," said the former England captain. "Sometimes it's better when they're against you because it's more enjoyable when you have a little bit of success. Hopefully we have that (Wednesday).

"But these are the occasions that as players you need to enjoy, and you'll only enjoy it if you're successful. …

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