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Field a focus in U.S. qualifier

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Julio Cortez/AP
U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann was pleased by his team’s performance in the World Cup

Ask FIFA and the organization says it sees no problem with playing on a quality artificial field.

U.S. Soccer still does.

“I'd rather play on real grass over turf than to play on turf,” U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said Monday.

Playing on a temporary grass field is the situation that will face the United States tonight when it plays Panama in a World Cup qualifier at Seattle's CenturyLink Field. The U.S. (2-1-1) improved to seven points in the 10-game final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region after winning at Jamaica last Friday night 2-1. The U.S. trails Costa Rica (2-1-1) on goal difference and is ahead of Mexico (1-0-4) on goals scored.

In order to bring a World Cup qualifier to the Pacific Northwest — where artificial surfaces are almost required — putting down a temporary grass surface was a condition. Seattle obliged, but the surface was far from ideal.

“When you talk about playing home games in World Cup qualifying, especially for us, you'd like to be playing on a field where it's cut real short and you're able to get some water on the field before the game and that creates just a fast, wet surface that is conducive to how we want to play,” U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said. “Look, clearly there are a lot of things that go into making these decisions. Seattle certainly deserves a game, but I think the field unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired.”

A win over Panama coupled with a victory next week in Utah against Honduras could give the Americans control of the qualifying group. The U.S. is 8-1-2 all-time against Panama, which is expected to be without leading scorer Blas Perez because of gastroenteritis.

“It's a huge game. We badly want three points in this game and then obviously next week in Salt Lake,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “Those are home games and they are must wins.”

next game

U.S. vs. Panama

WHAT: World Cup qualifying match

WHEN: Today, 7 p.m.

WHERE: CenturyLink Field, Seattle


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