No matter which side you fall on in The Great Antigua Field Debate, the condition of the pitch at Vivian Richards’ Stadium is still a talking point, one U.S. stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley were asked to comment on yesterday in Kansas City:
As Dempsey said, both teams had to play on it, though he did outline the difficulties: bobbling passes; the need to take extra touches. Those are the type of things that can hold back a more skilled team, even if it’s unclear if that’s what ended up happening on Friday. While a better pitch would have probably helped the U.S. more than Antigua, the “mud pit” wasn’t enough to keep the game as close as it was. As the team would readily admit, the performance had something to do with it, too.
Moving to Kansas City eliminates that variable, but as Bradley reminds everybody. a nicer stadium, more hospitable crowd, and better field don’t guarantee a better performance. And after Friday, the quality of play will matter, if only to inform the coach about which players are most likely to be part of a fully firing U.S. side. Though the team got three points in St. John’s, Jurgen Klinsmann and others made it clear they were not happy with the performance.
Tuesday can cure everything. If the U.S. plays well, it will make Antigua look like merely a bad night, something everybody can live with (given the team still got three points). If Guatemala gives the U.S. trouble, you’re looking at four out of the last five qualifiers where the team under-performed.