[GOLD CUP: Semifinals] The USA plays Honduras for the third time this year -- the rubber match in a series that saw the teams split their World Cup qualifiers -- when they meet Wednesday in the semifinals of the Gold Cup followed by Mexico-Panama. But the operative word here isn't rubber. It's concrete as in what the surface at Cowboys Stadium feels like.
For the third time in the last six weeks, the USA will play on grass installed at stadiums where NFL teams play on artificial turf. Some last-minute work salvaged the surface at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, where the USA beat Panama, 2-0, in their Hexagonal match. Sunday's USA-El Salvador Gold Cup quarterfinal at M&T Bank Stadium was also played on grass installed for the occasion, and it was given a passing grade.
But the sod installed over the concrete at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has not taken well, and ugly seams have developed. U.S. goalkeeping coach Kasey Keller told SI.com's Grant Wahl that the surface "seems like concrete on top. Hard. Real hard."
This isn't the first time the Gold Cup has been played at Cowboys Stadium, built at a cost of $1.2 billion. The 2009 quarterfinals were the inaugural event at Cowboys Stadium, and the games were played on stadium's brand-new artificial turf.
This won't be the first time grass has been installed at Cowboys Stadium for soccer, though. Shortly after the 2009 Gold Cup quarterfinals, Chelsea and Club America played a game in the World Football Challenge at the stadium and grass was installed.
Last year, Brazil and Mexico played a friendly at Cowboys Stadium that drew almost 85,000 fans, and 100,000 square feet of Bermuda grass was installed over the concrete floor.
How has the artificial turf held up at the stadium known as Jerry's World after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? An NFL Players Association survey ranked the surface fifth of 13 artificial-turf fields in the NFL in 2011, but it was in such bad condition after being rolled up, stored and relaid out so many times, it's had to be replaced this year.
Tour groups were given a glimpse of the new fake turf last month -- people actually pay to tour Jerry's World Cup -- and the first game on the surface will take place Aug. 4 when the Cowboys host the Miami Dolphins.