The 60,000 fans who piled into Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night, and the larger number of fans who flipped on their televisions, expected to see an MLS playoff game kick off at 8 p.m. ET. Instead, what they saw were people repainting the field.
A couple of days ago, the pitch at Olympic Stadium was painted for the Eastern Conference final first leg match between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC. Apparently, no one noticed that the two penalty areas were 4 feet too narrow. But during his pre-match inspection, referee Juan Guzman spotted the problem and thankfully figured out that the pitch wasn't painted correctly. While this caused a lengthy delay, it's ultimately a good thing that the players were able to play a fair game, not one on a messed-up regulation field.
After the grounds crew painted green over the old lines, they started to paint the penalty box correctly, and the "Big O" crowd roared as they fired up the paint machine.
If you're wondering if there's a good excuse for this ... no, not really. While the Impact usually play at Stade Saputo down the street, they've hosted plenty of games at the Olympic Stadium before. The stadium does not have another full-time tenant that caused the grounds crew to need to finish their job on short notice. This is a pretty simple thing to get right, and they had plenty of time. It's a really, really bad screw-up.
Previously in bad American soccer pitches, check out this ridiculously small one that NWSL caught some criticism for earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Seattle Sounders are making sure they don't fall victim to this same issue later on Tuesday night.
Sounders grounds crew currently measuring the CenturyLink penalty box pic.twitter.com/b69kbGKkCo— Matt Pentz (@mattpentz) November 23, 2016