The US National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) is opposed to playing any game on sod placed atop artificial surfaces. On April 2, 2019 the USNSTPA sent the following e-mail to US Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro. On April 8 we received a response from US Soccer's legal counsel that the game would go ahead as scheduled. In the view of the Players Association, this is just one more example of a serious problem that the United States Soccer Federation is not advancing the interests of the sport of soccer or the interests of the players or the fans, but is solely focused on generating ever-increasing revenues and profits for the Federation, its employees, its sponsors, and private businesses associated with the Federation. In its response, the Federation confirmed that it is more concerned with the number of fans who attend and the prices they pay to attend than with the safety of the players or the quality of the game the fans will see when they attend or watch on television, "Cincinnati has demonstrated massive support for soccer over the past few years, and the audience will provide a great send-off to the Gold Cup."
Dear Mr. Cordeiro, et al.:
On behalf of the members of the United States National Soccer Team Players Association, we are writing to express a serious concern and to try to avoid a bad situation before it is announced by the Federation. We have been told by sources outside the Federation that there is a plan to schedule a US Men’s National Team game on sodplaced on top of artificial turf at an MLS stadium in preparation for the Gold Cup. The players (and others associated with the team) are adamant that such a game would be waste of time and resources, is a threat to player safety, and would be damaging to the effort to develop the United States Men’s National Team and help the team achieve competitive success.
As you should be aware, for an entire year, the USMNT players have endured an interim coach and a year of limbo. Now, the players finally have a non-interim coach and are learning what personnel are likely to be the members of the team in the near future, what positions those players will be called upon to play, and what tactical approach the coaching staff intends for the team and for specific players, and the coaches and players and the USMNT staff are all using camps and games to advance the interests of the team. The proposed game on sod on artificial turf will run counter to those efforts and will not advance any of the interests of the USMNT.
Now that the team is on that track, all games should be used as an opportunity to advance the common interest of the players and the coaching staff to move forward. As the Federation personnel closest to the team and the players are well aware, a game played on sod on top of artificial turf will be a waste of 90 minutes and also presents a substantially increased risk of player injury. We do not know if the decisions about field selection are being made to reward MLS owners or to seek a venue where fans have been supporting their MLS team in significant numbers, but it appears that either some sort of economic motivation or a deal with MLS or a lack of understanding of the many problems associated with sod on an artificial surface, or some combination of those factors has led to this decision.
On behalf of the players we must insist that the plan to hold a pre-Gold Cup game on sod on artificial surface (whether plywood is placed on top of the artificial surface or not) should be abandoned and a new venue sought.
When combined with the Federation’s failure to participate properly in collective bargaining with the players, this disregard for player safety and the collective effort by the players and the coaching staff to improve the performance of the team is very troubling to the players.
Please confirm that the Federation will not be scheduling any USMNT games on sod placed over artificial surfaces.
The US National Soccer Team Players Association