I was planning to go to Harrison, New Jersey on Wednesday night. I didn’t. You know why? Because it was a freaking miserable day outside.
The New York Red Bulls and D.C. United were supposed to play a soccer game in Harrison, New Jersey on Wednesday night. They didn’t. You know why? Because it was a freaking miserable night outside.
And you know what else? It was absolutely the correct call to postpone the playoff match until Thursday night. Yes, it inconvenienced a lot of people, including the 700 D.C. supporters who made the journey north. And it angered Ben Olsen, whose team was ready and willing. (I suspect a lot of Red Bulls were ready to go, too, even if Hans Backe wasn’t.)
And yes, watching it all unfold in realtime was kind of a trainwreck, although very compelling television in a strange way. Big props to Kyle Martino.
But moving the game to Thursday was absolutely right. The crews tried, but they couldn’t stay ahead of the storm, which reserved its heaviest period for the hour before game time.
The real question, I think, is whether MLS should have looked at the forecast and postponed the game before 9 p.m. on Wednesday night. Plenty of people seem to think they should have, but I disagree. I know there was a nor’easter predicted but trust me, after living through a number of these things, they rarely turn out as predicted. The events at Red Bull Arena were worst-case scenario. If the storm comes an hour later or an hour earlier or never comes at all — which happens more than you might think — the game goes on without interruption.
Let’s look at this from the other side: Say Don Garber checks out the weather at 4 p.m. and decides to cancel the match. The D.C. contingent — the most aggrieved party in this situation — is still on the way. Players from both teams know they won’t be playing five hours earlier, but they are still well into their pre-game routines. And then, what happens if the storm doesn’t happen to dump snow right at 8 p.m.? You have a green field, two angry teams, two mad-as-heck fanbases, and a lot of questions. Not good. Not good at all.
Last night’s events in Harrison were a bad outcome and a PR embarrassment, but it was the right call that led to them.