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901 FC vs Orlando City SC in smaller Memphis stadium

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Memphis coach Tim Mulqueen spoke with reporters after his 901 FC’s 4-0 win over Hartford Athletic in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday.
Jason Munz, The Commercial Appeal

The backlash was swift and stiff.

The announcement that 901 FC would be back at Mike Rose Soccer Complex for the next round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) against Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC rubbed much of the first-year club’s passionate fanbase the wrong way.

Why not play at AutoZone Park, which seats 5,000-plus more fans than MRSC, on Tuesday to avoid the logistical conflict with the stadium’s other tenant, the Memphis Redbirds?

The reaction on Twitter included “egregious misstep” from Joe Sills, “this is garbage” from Brady Ondra and “downtown would be on fire” from Ward Robinson.

But not everyone was quite so bummed out.

Chief among them, 901 FC captain Marc Burch. Reason being: the field. The difference between most USL Championship fields compared to those MLS teams play on is drastic, according to Burch.

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“The field is the big difference,” he said. “(In the USL), they’re baseball fields or they’re turf fields. When we play on a real soccer field, our team is really, really good. The game calls for something different when you’re in a tighter, more confined, smooth field. We’re good at (it) and we’re competitive, but when we get on a big field, we’re very, very good.”

The field at MRSC is 75 yards wide and 115 long. The dimensions for soccer games at AutoZone Park are 70 yards wide and 110 long.

Elliot Collier, like Burch, has spent time with MLS. The forward is currently on loan from Chicago Fire.

“Either way, we would’ve been happy,” Collier said. “We probably would’ve been happier (at AutoZone Park). But it’s a really nice field (at MRSC). We’re coming off a 4-0 win there, so we’ve got that confidence. In saying that, though, the nicer field will also help out Orlando. So we kinda lose our home field advantage.”

Memphis 901 FC (2-7-4) had its five-game unbeaten streak snapped Saturday with a 3-0 loss to Indy Eleven at AutoZone Park. Orlando City SC (5-7-3) is coming off a 3-0 road win over Montreal Impact.



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