McPherson to oversee stadium grounds operation and play a critical role in cultivating and maintaining all St. Louis CITY’s playing surfaces, including Centene Stadium
Earlier this year, St Louis CITY SC announced Centene Stadium as the official name of the stadium venue where the team will play their 17 home games during their historic, inaugural Major League Soccer (MLS) season in 2023. And now, the club has hired Josh McPherson, the man responsible for creating and maintaining a professionally groomed pitch at Centene Stadium.
McPherson, the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Dick Ericson award issued by the Sports Field Managers Association, will oversee a team of groundskeepers in the maintenance and operation of St Louis CITY SC’s soccer fields. Additionally, he will be charged with ensuring that all the club’s playing surfaces meet franchise guidelines and comply with quality and safety standards set forth by MLS and other national and international governing bodies.
Before joining St Louis CITY SC, McPherson spent 12 years as the Director of Sports Fields at the University of Missouri (Mizzou), where he was in charge of maintaining Mizzou’s athletic fields which hosted year-round games and special events. In 2008, he joined the Washington DC Department of Parks and Recreation as the Manager of Athletic Field Maintenance, after holding the position of Director of Turf Management at George Mason University.
“The most important thing is creating the best and safest playing surface so our players can perform at a high level,” explained Josh McPherson, St Louis CITY’s Director of Stadium Grounds. “I know how crucial field management is to the way the game is played and so I will be working closely with the coaching staff to create a surface that suits our playing style which will hopefully create an exciting experience for our fans whenever they come to Centene Stadium. I am so excited to build a team of turfgrass professionals that is not just known for how we manage the quality of the pitch, but also how we treat people and engage in the community.”
Pitch quality has become a crucial element for soccer clubs worldwide as it allows players to maximize their talent and showcase their skills during matches. For many teams, the quality or aesthetics of the pitch can be used as a tactical advantage. A bad pitch can be a disadvantage for a team that relies on quick passing in their build-up as it could hamper their playing style. St Louis CITY’s Sporting Director Lutz Pfannenstiel has always been clear that the club will adopt an intense, direct, and high pressing playing style, so having a pitch that helps that philosophy is essential.
“Having a guy like Josh who is so passionate about grass and player safety is such a huge benefit for our club,” commented Pfannenstiel. “In modern football, the quality of the pitch has such a significant impact on how a team plays – with something as basic as the length of the grass possibly providing an advantage to one team based on their philosophy. Thankfully, we have Josh, who not only brings a ton of experience and expertise but also understands how to maintain a playing surface that suits the way we want to play.”