Injuries

Turf and Injuries: The Data Hurts by DMP

One of the most peculiar matches of the 2018 regular season occurred on August 18th. The LA Galaxy were already stretched thin from injuries to both dos Santos-es and Romain Alessandrini (their three DPs) and defender Michael Ciani for Sigi Schmid’s return to Seattle. But when they showed up in town, there was a huge name - perhaps the biggest name in MLS - missing from the lineup. That name was Zlatan, and by all indication his absence was voluntary.

By the end of the afternoon, the Galaxy really could have used one of the greatest players ever to kick a soccer ball. They ended up suffering their worst loss of the season and Seattle notched their best (5-0). Oh yeah, and the Galaxy missed the playoffs by less than three points.

We all know why he missed that game. It’s because the Sounders play on FieldTurf. There’s a perception out there that playing on artificial grass increases the risk of injury, and Zlatan had hurt his knee not long before (not on turf).

The superstar is not alone in his perception. I remember being disappointed not to see Thierry Henry play at CenturyLink Field in 2013. In fact, a group of Canadian researchers surveyed 99 MLS players back in 2011 and found that the vast majority (93%) said they believe third-generation artificial turf (FieldTurf) increases the risk of injury.

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