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6ix on a Wave: Grazing In The Grass — What to do about turf?

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Is synthetic turf here to stay in MLS?

MLS: Eastern Conference Championship-Columbus Crew at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, hello there sports fans.

It’s safe to say that things are getting pretty dicey in Toronto FC land. These weren’t the results we were looking for. Move along.

Instead, it was pretty much the darkest timeline.

We all know the “whys” by heart - injuries, fixture congestion, injuries, CONCACAF hangover, injuries, VAR shenanigans, injuries, best season in MLS hangover, and, of course, injuries.

We also know what’s at stake here, and we are all very much aware of the shrinking amount of time and points left on the season to right to ship. It’s masochism to dredge them up again, on a Monday, no less. I’m sensitive to the inescapable fact that many of us have day jobs in the real world, and the real world has bigger fish to fry than TFC’s recent run of terrible form. I’m also pretty sure the real world is sick of hearing us bitch about TFC.

When, all things considered (injuries), it’s really not that bad (welcome back Chris Mavinga!!!!).

Let’s use Mitchell’s sunday op-ed to rage, vent and ‘Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war!’.

While this sure feels like TFC Stockholm Syndrome, I have to keep reminding myself that this is sports fandom, full stop. Support your team during the good times, support your team during the bad times. For words of wisdom, I defer to that intergalactic swashbuckling legend, he of the dramatic pauses, Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Now, I’m in no way suggesting that TFC is dead; I’m not that short sighted, but it’s a great quote I’ve been sitting on for awhile, and this is about as bad as I hope things get before the pendulum swings.

There is something eating away at me, something I think it’s high time to discuss in the storehouse of magic that is the comments section:

Is it time to ban Synthetic Turf in MLS?

Listen; I understand the harsh reality of North American weather. I understand the costs associated with real grass. I’m well aware of FIFA’s stance on the issue. That’s all fine and dandy.

But I’ve seen, time and time again, the effect turf has on a game plan in this league. When teams face off on turf, it is always part of the conversation. European imports/elite players are reluctant to play on it. Injuries occur at higher frequency, and by and large with greater severity, on plastic pitches. Turf is a coach/player/fan/league nightmare,

And it may also be MLS’s kryptonite — It’s absolutely one of the first things euro-snobs regurgitate when they shit on our domestic league.

It’s funny to me that the MLS mothership is so quick to embrace VAR as the future of the game, and then use this towards bragging rights in support of it’s branding as a progressive league, yet they are a-ok with playing on bush-league substandard field surfaces just an inch inside FIFA’s international rules.

To me, this puts our league in a weird spot, and seeing as MLS is once again importing veteran stars to sell seats and jerseys, this debate on field surfaces isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I’m inclined to think it will probably heat up as the Zlatans, Rooneys, Balotellis, and so on arrive here to ply their wares.

MLS will again be under the spotlight, and we forgot to wear pants.

But nothing is that simple and binary. As Charlie reminded me when he took a gander at my first draft — there is a serious case to be made for TFC installing one of those half-synthetic half-grass hybrid surfaces, given the state of the pitch.

A very fair point, and one I expect to be raised in the comments. Still, ignoring all other concerns (and logic, it could be argued), it’s a given that MLS wants to be seen as a world-class league, and playing on turf, right or wrong, is seen as substandard.

What do we do? Given the specifics of the league (climate/owners reluctant to invest and maintain real grass surfaces/etc.), perhaps the better question is : What can we do?

THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST

Just happens to be our very first 6oaW playlist takeover!!!

Mic Mac 77 delivered an absolutely fantastic set of Soul Heartbreakers, with just enough lightness to help the medicine go down. I’ve had the pleasure of living with several drafts of this over the past week, and let me just say, it’s a Stone Cold Stunner. You can tell a ton of effort went into it.

Since this playlist is so thematically driven, and since we might as well go “Just Can’t Get Enough” free this week (sniff sniff), Mic Mac 77 went a bit clever-clever and subbed it for “Situation” by Yazoo. The lyrics certainly fit (for this week, and I hope never again). Seeing as Vince Clarke wrote “Just Can’t Get Enough” and then left Depeche Mode to form Yazoo, it’s still very much legal.

Mic Mac 77 also gives us our first “Referee Special”. Track #13 - “Here Comes The Judge” by Pete Rodriguez. Very much on-trend. Good shout.

I think these guest playlists are a terrific idea. So... who’s got next?