Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Is Soccer Better to Watch in a Dome?

I remember the last time the Montreal Impact played in Olympic Stadium, in a CONCACAF Champions League final, versus Club America from Mexico. I saw something then that got my attention, too.

On Tuesday, there were plenty of games from Europe's Champions League to watch. But, I was more excited to watch a different match pitting teams from a country outside the U.S. I had wanted to see the Montreal Impact play Toronto FC for a few reasons. The match kept me connected to MLS, and I got to watch players I'm familiar with, such as Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Didier Drogba. I expected to see fast-paced action and a lot of goals. The match didn't disappoint with a 3-2 final score.

Frankly, I was more interested to watch this soccer experience, also, because I knew it would be at the sold-out, indoors Olympic Stadium in Montreal with more than 60,000 spectators watching. The domed Olympic Stadium has hosted some fun Impact games in its recent history. I've noticed that the crowd helps to provide an exceptional atmosphere and the ball moves quickly on the carpet (artificial turf), skidding with more bounce. Good to great players can make the passes sharper and anticipate runs better.

There is something about this combination of crowd experience and artificial turf that creates a beautiful, more engaged soccer. I think it can be compared to an American football experience in a dome. Remember the Kirk Warner quarterbacked St. Louis Rams 'greatest show on turf' and how it changed American football. Many pundits would argue that American football is more fun to watch in a dome. There are no weather conditions to deal with, the players move faster and crowds can be phenomenal.

Next year, MLS gets another dome for a team to play its home games in (Vancouver Whitecaps play in a dome/BC Place), provided by Atlanta United FC. I will be interested to see the results after a couple of seasons. It's unlikely an expansion team can win MLS Cup in its first year, but I would expect there to be a big home-field advantage there. And, it wouldn't surprise me if Atlanta United FC became a force to be reckoned with in a short amount of seasons.

If playing indoors can help bring about more goals, I'm all for it. I used to think it was unnatural for soccer to be played on turf and injuries could happen more frequently, but, hey it's not me out there playing, what do I care? I want to see more action and it appears dome soccer can satisfy that demand. I've been to great games outdoors and I will always believe there is room for outdoor soccer to thrive, but a dome soccer game gets the juices flowing, too.

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