News 4 takes you behind the scenes to the team keeping the pitch up to par for CITY SC

Keeping the pitch looking good for those games takes its own practice, training and hard work.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 8:01 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - On the field CITY SC is on a hot streak after winning their fourth game of the season last Saturday.

Keeping the pitch looking good for those games takes its own practice, training and hard work.

News 4 went behind the scenes with the team that’s keeping the grass green.

Director of stadium grounds Josh McPherson is making magic happen on the pitch. After spending more than a decade in charge of all the fields at Mizzou, he moved here to do the same at CITYPARK.

“I can make the field safer,” McPherson says. “I always wanted to do something where I could help athletes participate in sport and not get injured.”

McPherson says he has a feeling when grass is safer for those players but now he’s able to take that feeling and quantify it.

“Cleg impact value which is how hard it is,” McPherson says. “Energy restitution. How much energy is coming back into the body. How can we make it so we can make a player slip and fall before the energy would go into ligaments and damage those ligaments.”

With the weather changing often in St. Louis, McPherson says that can really impact the grass. With his team, they use heating and lights to manipulate and extend the warm growing season.

“How can we best maximize when we can’t predict the weather,” McPherson says. “There’s two schools of thought. There’s a cool season grass and a warm season grass. We’ve gone with the warm season grass so where we’ll struggle the most would be November, December, January, February and that way in the heat of summer our grass is really thriving and growing.”

McPherson recruited his associate director Maritza Martinez to join the team.

Now Martinez is making history on her own.

“In my industry of everyone in it, only four percent are women,” Martinez says. “I’d like to say it makes me excited, but honestly, it makes me a little sad. I wanna change that. I don’t like saying I’m the only one. I want this to be something that’s evenly divided.”

Martinez wants to serve as a role model for the next generation.

“Maybe a young girl is brought with her family to watch a match and is like hey that’s a woman down there maybe I could do that,” Martinez says.

Not only is she one of few women in this role across the MLS, Martinez says she’s also one of the few Latinas.

“There’s not a ton of diversity so going to conferences and things I look around and go okay I might be one of the only people of color here,” Martinez says. “Again, back to full exposure. I think people of color, women, could do these jobs, should do these jobs.”