Anthony Camarena says he can have Bonney Field playable in 48 hours if Mother Nature will cooperate and stop the deluge.
Camarena owns TCS Turf and is the contractor tasked with field maintenance at Bonney Field, home of Republic FC. For the first three seasons, Camarena was worried about having enough water to keep the natural grass at Bonney Field in excellent condition. At what was supposed to be the start of the fourth season, Camarena is struggling to keep the water off the pitch.
“Bonney Field is in a bowl and much of Cal Expo drains toward the field,” Camarena said. “If the team was to play a match, there would be lots of damage to the field. It would take a toll. There’s standing water around the south goal and the middle of the field.”
Rain prevented Republic FC’s preseason debut with torrential downpours canceling a friendly against the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer Feb. 10 at Bonney Field and forcing Sunday’s friendly against Fresno Fuego FC of the Premier Development League to be moved from Fresno to Stanislaus State and turned into a closed practice.
Fans can get their first look at the 2017 edition of Republic FC on Wednesday when they play the Sacramento Gold at 7 p.m. in a friendly at American River College. Tickets are $10 and proceeds go to the ARC soccer program.
Camarena said his main concern is the safety of the players.
He said he could have the field playable with two days of dry, 60-degree weather, but it would take four days of perfect weather, and lots of man hours, to make it pristine.
“I can work some of my magic,” he said. That magic includes lots of field conditioner, akin to kitty litter, that soaks up moisture and can be raked off or vacuumed up.
Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said the poor weather has disrupted his team’s ability to prepare for the upcoming season with practices shortened or altered by having to play on synthetic turf. Soccer balls move differently on synthetic turf than natural grass, on which most U.S. professional soccer teams play.
“When we play on the AstroTurf field (at Cosumnes River College) we have to use goals on wheels and those things were blowing over,” Buckle said. “It’s all about the safety of the players, especially as they’re getting into match shape. But the players have been exemplary and they understand. They were disappointed that the Red Bulls game was canceled and that hasn’t helped our development.”
Buckle thinks that his squad has started training earlier than most USL teams and the weather delays will put them on par with the rest of the league.
The team had some quality training sessions during nine days in Mexico, near Mazatlan, in near-perfect weather, Buckle said.
Emrah Klimenta will be in street clothes as he continues to recover from knee surgery and Harry Williams and Daniel Trickett-Smith also will be held out Saturday with ankle and thigh injuries, respectively, Buckle said.
Buckle said he’s glad the game stayed on the schedule to give his players a chance to test themselves against another team.
“I’m really keen for them to put some real minutes on their legs,” Buckle said. “We’ve worked hard on tactics. Now we get to see them put them into practice.”