Lionel Messi’s desire to not play on a synthetic field in the MLS seems to have been turned down.
The seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or has made quite an impression in his first two games for Inter Miami. Messi won his first game, against Cruz Azul, with a last-second free kick. He then scored twice and set up a goal in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United.
Some of the 36-year-old player’s MLS opponents aren’t willing to give him any possible edge going forward.
Even though Messi reportedly doesn’t like to play on artificial fields, one MLS team won’t put grass in their stadium. Some people think that because artificial areas have more grip than grass, they cause more injuries.
Six MLS teams already play on a synthetic field, but the league’s head, Don Garber, had suggested that teams could make changes before the Argentine came.
But Charlotte FC’s leaders are not willing to let grass be put down at the Bank of America Stadium before their game on October 21 against Miami.
A club representative told The Charlotte Observer that the club had decided to stick with an artificial surface, even though grass had been put down briefly for an exhibition game against Premier League team Chelsea and two USMNT matches.
“All of our Major League Soccer games are scheduled to be played on turf,” the spokesperson said. No plans exist to switch to natural grass.”
MLS commissioner Garber told The Athletic in the past that he thought clubs might have to make some changes to meet Messi’s needs.
He said, “That’s what every club will do when they go to those grounds that don’t have natural grass.
“I think that’s what they’ll do, but there’s a lot of work to do before we know for sure. MLS promotes a lot of foreign games, and we’ve been able to bring natural grass into those stadiums, but we’ve never done that for a regular season game.”
Before the end of the season, Miami is also scheduled to play Atlanta on September 16 at their Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has an artificial field.
Before the All-Stars game against Arsenal earlier this month, Atlanta president and CEO Garth Lagerwey also didn’t seem willing to change his mind on the problem. He also denied that artificial pitches were dangerous.
When asked about the field, he told the Mirror, “You can ask [Inter Miami coach Tata Martino]. He knows how good our grass is.” He can tell his players how good and safe our place is.”