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Why was Oakland Roots’ first USL home game postponed?

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A look at the turf parquet field and Oakland’s initial response.

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We’ve seen a lot of reasons for postponed games over the past year-plus, but while “field conditions” have led to many a game postponement over the years, I can’t quite remember an occasion like this one on Saturday for the Oakland Roots-Sacramento Republic game at Laney College Stadium.

Instead of the poor field conditions being down to inclement weather or improper drainage, this time the actual field itself, a patchwork of turf patches, caused PRO and the USL Championship to step in and stop the game roughly 30 minutes out from kickoff.

The turf itself appears to have quite the history. The star-crossed NASL outfit Rayo OKC originally bought the turf rectangles, then went bust after a year. There was a reported dispute over ownership of the turf. It was then leased out to another NASL side, the New York Cosmos, that continued to play after the NASL went out of business.

Then, in 2019, Oakland Roots began leasing the turf, making this turf parquet floor not only unprecedented in USL play but also playing on it for a couple years in the meantime, meaning the patches are probably pretty worn at this point.

By Saturday, the turf patches looked really odd in the sun, to say nothing of how safe they were to actually run and play on.

Now, how did it get to the day of the game before the league and referees decided the field wasn’t safe to play on? This was Oakland’s first home game of the season, so there haven’t been any league games here yet, but still — aren’t advance inspections completed or does the league just trust the teams to provide a proper field?

These are lingering questions, and while this is a rough homecoming for Oakland at USL Championship level, some credit should be given to the club for owning up to the problems and apologizing immediately. Often when something embarrassing like this happens, teams usually take three days to make a carefully crafted statement that says very little and otherwise go on media silence. Oakland didn’t do that, they seemed genuinely contrite.

We’ll see what the fallout is from all of this, but in the end, Sac Republic midfielder Pete Pennanen probably recapped one of the weirdest nights in a league that admittedly has its fair share of weird nights.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.