ARLINGTON You can't even do an interview without being confronted with diehard loyalties. That's the expected kind of rivalry at soccer's Gold Cup semifinals being played at Cowboys Stadium.

But then there's also an unexpected turf war.

"The grass we saw yesterday doesn't rate very highly, that's for sure," said Jon Arnold, who writes for the online publication American Soccer Now.

Other writers have been even more damning in their descriptions.

"Terrible field in Dallas" exclaimed one tweet.

"Amateur hour," suggested another.

Some covering the CONCACAF event decry the pitch as a woefully patchworked, hard-as-a-rock playing surface; far from the gold standard they'd expect at the Gold Cup.

"The ball is going to do some weird things, which is not what you want at a tournament as prestigious as this," said Arnold, who said he sees about a dozen big matches a month.

Until now, he had never before seen a pile of green sand; purportedly to patch bald spots in the turf.

Fans outside Cowboys Stadium joked they may be playing on better turf in the grassy medians around the parking lot. They are expecting the unexpected.

"It'll mess up the whole play," said Angel Barragan. "t can injure the players."

The good news: All teams will be sparring on a level playing field (figuratively, if not literally), Arnold said.

"Both teams have to play with it and deal with it," he said. "It's not like one of them is playing on a nice field while the other has to play on a horrible field."


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