Nearly a third into the 34-game MLS season, Minnesota United waits for the ball to bounce its way, particularly in the field's final third.
Maybe a better grass surface at Allianz Field will help.
Loons coach Adrian Heath predicts an Iowa company's hybrid "stitch" system that reinforces the current grass with synthetic fibers will be "a big improvement."
Work has already begun on the field and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
"Obviously we're against the elements, aren't we?" Heath said. "I think we were the last team by about three weeks to [train] on grass this year. It's not ideal, but it is what it is. We live where we live. I just think this will probably help in the long term."
Allianz Field opened in 2019 with multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art heating and drainage systems installed beneath the field. It has had issues since.
The new system is the same as those installed in Brazil's Maracana and English Premier League West Ham, Leicester and Leeds United stadiums.
"It has been particularly difficult this year," Heath said. "The weather has not been particularly kind to us. All things being equal, it's probably the best. It's something now most of the good, big clubs have got."
Heath is hopeful a more even, consistent field will benefit his most talented players, particularly playmaking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso.
When asked how much of an issue the grass field has been so far this season, Heath said, "I wouldn't say a big factor. It hasn't helped us at times. People like Rey are so comfortable with the ball, that bobbly feel and the factor you can't just concentrate on what you're going to do with it next would become a little bit of an issue.
"But I wouldn't say it's the reason we lost a couple games at home this year."
USWNT's equal pay "long time coming"
Loons veteran midfielder Wil Trapp called Wednesday's historic agreement that will pool money US Soccer receives from FIFA for international competition evenly to both women's and men's national team members "a long time coming."
He knows. He has been as a players' rep part of negotiations with US Soccer for the last four years or longer that resulted in an announced agreement that gives the women's team players equal pay they've sought for years.
"Ultimately, it's a great collaboration between the men's and women's teams," Trapp said after Wednesday's 1-1 draw with LA Galaxy. "I think everyone is coming out of it with excitement. There's a path forward to see the growth at every level of US Soccer through this deal. That's a huge testament to the players' associations on the women's side and the men's side.
"It's amazing to see the collaboration between the two teams because that's always something where there's been a divide. To tie ourselves together, I think that's amazing. They generate millions of dollars and with this deal I think it will only go up and they will be fairly compensated for what they do on and off the field."
Tweaking the 11
Heath adjusted his starting 11 Wednesday against the L.A. Galaxy by starting DJ Taylor at right back for Oniel Fisher while injured Romain Metanire's hamstring heals. He moved Bongokuhle Hlongwane into a right-side attacking role alongside Reynoso in the middle and Franco Fragapane on his usual left side.
That kept right-side attacker Robin Lod back up top for a team that had scored 12 goals — and allowed that many — in its first MLS 14 games.
Taylor forced Galaxy keeper Jonathan Bond's stretching save on a diving header in the 19th minute. Hlongwane's running right-foot strike from 12 yards out went just wide of the back post in the 23rd minute.
"All love" from Gasper
Former Loons left back Chase Gasper subbed into the game in the 75th minute after another former Loon, Raheem Edwards, started at left back.
The Loons sold Gasper to the Galaxy two weeks ago for general allocation money. He visited his former team's locker room after the game.
"It is going to be strange, but I have nothing but love for the fans here," Gasper told the Loons' pregame show. "I'll be definitely rooting for my team, but after the game it's all love with the fans. I have so many cherished memories here I'll hold the rest of my life."
Take that bet
Loons central midfielder Kervin Arriaga started again beside defensive midfielder Wil Trapp, still sporting a hairdo dyed bright green on top.
"I promised him I'll do my hair his way if we win the U.S. Open Cup," said Heath, whose team is four wins from doing so.