An NWSL match last night was played on a pitch that fit in the outfield of a baseball diamond. Sure, NYCFC plays on a baseball field, and it’s bad, but not terrible, so how rough could this be?
Let me go ahead and spoil it for you: it was bad. Really, really, really bad.
Due to a concert at their home field Rhinos Stadium, the Western New York Flash hosted the Seattle Reign at nearby Frontier Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins AAA affiliate Rochester Red Wings. The field, made specifically to avoid the dirt baseball infield and somehow deemed legal by the NWSL before the match, was 100 yards by 58 yards. FIFA standards are 100 x 50, and while NWSL standards are higher at 100 x 70, an exception was made by the league office in this case due to the mitigating circumstances. Check out the image:
The aftermath of the game, which has garnered national attention, has resulted in some embarrassing moments for the NWSL. They issued an immediate apology, admitting a mistake in allowing the game to proceed. “The field dimensions were not up to our standards, but due to various factors, the league office made the decision to grant an exception for this evening’s match,” said commissioner Jeff Plush in the statement. “In retrospect, we made the wrong decision.”
But that’s not all. Seattle Reign head coach Laura Harvey was left fuming after the game, and posted a message on Twitter saying they were informed the field was not up to code just hours before the match, only to be told the game would go on despite no improvements made. “At 1:30pm we received an email from the officials that they deemed the field unsuitable if certain aspects of the field were not changed,” Harvey wrote. “At 5pm they did another inspection in which they told me specifically that the field had not changed from 1:30pm, but now they deemed it suitable!”
“For any players/staff to be put in a position like we were tonight is unacceptable,” Harvey continued. “The result and outcome of the game are secondary to what impact this will have on our sport.”
The concert at Rhinos Stadium was a 90’s throwback concert featuring TLC, and was scheduled prior to the release of the NWSL schedule. A number of USWNT players saw the field after their 1-0 win over South Africa earlier in the day, and took to social media to voice their displeasure.