When asked about how to make it to the professional level of soccer, many athletes talk about the attention to the details is what makes the difference. Coaches also preach this endlessly to their players and often prefer a player who can manage the little things well, over a more talented player who cannot.
Most of the time, players put themselves on a strict diet, develop strong sleeping habits and restrict their activities to lower the chances of injury and to keep their bodies from experiencing fatigue.
Now those are within the realms and responsibilities of the player, but what does the club do? What can the organization provide in terms of the details to give their players a slight advantage on the playing field?
For FC Dallas, one of those things is the playing surface.
The staff here at Big D Soccer have noticed a trend that the grounds crew seems to do a complete overhaul of the field once a year. I’ve reached out to Allen Reed who is the Director of Stadium Grounds for FC Dallas to ask a few questions. Because his crew is in the middle of a field renovation, his time is limited but was gracious enough to give us some information.
The team plays on ryegrass at the beginning of the season through roughly this time of year. They then play on bermuda grass the rest of the season. We have been renovating the field every year like this since 2014. During the renovation we strip existing field which consist of mostly ryegrass and go back in with 100% bermuda grass sod.
Now, what advantages does bermuda grass have over ryegrass and vice versa? Haven’t the slightest clue as I’m that guy who’s actively trying to kill his grass so he doesn’t have to mow it.
But it did raise a question among the staff if Dallas had any kind of advantage playing on a particular surface at home. Here’s what I came up with:
The dates are an approximation when the field was renovated. The question is, in 3.5 years, does Dallas have any kind of advantage based on the type of grass they play?
Ryegrass PPG: 2.15
Bermuda PPG: 2.54
Of course, none of this factors the opposition, injuries, or anything else in particular. Most visiting teams will automatically struggle more in Dallas because of the heat from June onward, so it’s not a surprise that Dallas has a stronghold in securing points at home.
In a profession where players, coaches and teams will do anything possible to gain an advantage, who’s to say that this isn’t part of the plan for FC Dallas?
OK, that last one is a bit of a stretch. But if nothing else, it was an interesting exercise, and fun research project. And while you’re here, give Allen Reed a follow on the Twitter. He doesn’t tweet much but many of us have spent more time than we care to admit just scrolling through his timeline to learn more about grass and he does to make the game day experience a great one.