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Field conditions for MLS Cup? Not good at all

Dec 7, 2013, 9:01 PM EDT

2013 MLS Cup-Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

KANSAS CITY — Everyone knew Saturday’s temperatures would be hopelessly uncomfortable, but the field was supposed to be OK, wasn’t it?

Perhaps we were a little naïve to believe Sporting Park’s surface could withstand sustained temperatures in the teens and lows 20s and still be playable, although Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes had assured everyone that would be the case.

In the end, the facility’s underground heating element was badly over-matched, and big portions of the field were indeed frozen.

SKC manager Peter Vermes said called the conditions “tough” on both sides, not just the field but the temperatures. Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis was a little tougher on it, although he never complained that it gave either team an edge.

“Whatever kind of system they’ve got, they need to look into revising it, making it better,” Kreis said.  “The far side of the field was frozen for the entire match, the goal box down closest to Sporting Kansas City’s bench was completely frozen, making things difficult for both goalkeepers.”

He said the conditions contributed to a “hectic” start for both sides, and that it was “panic stations” for a while.

“Those circumstances are not ideal for soccer, at all,” Kreis said later in his post-game comments. “I’m glad we didn’t see more injuries. I think it’s something not only this club but all of us have to address if we are going to have finals in December we need to have better heating systems.”

  1. talgrath - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    The system probably would have worked if the game wasn’t held in you know, one of the coldest months of the year. Maybe if the final happened in November or October this wouldn’t have been a problem, just a suggestion there MLS executives.

    • wfjackson3 - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      The coldest month of the year in KC is either January or February. It is actually unseasonably cold right now.

      • talgrath - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        Note I said “one of”, not the coldest month of the year. I realize this may not usually be Kansas City’s coldest month specifically, that’s not really my point, my point is that the MLS Cup really shouldn’t be held this late in the year in general.

      • wfjackson3 - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:14 AM

        I get your point. My point is that your suggestion is solving a problem which wouldn’t exist in 19 out of 20 years.

  2. mvktr2 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    I thought on the espn broadcast they said the heating system was more of a maintenance/preventative system not really intended to melt frozen ground in extreme temps but to (I assume) keep underground water/drainage systems damage free. This would explain the heating system ‘not working’ in keeping ground unfrozen all over.

  3. takethelongview - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    If Talgrath is subtly arguing for shifting the calendar so that the Final falls in May, it’s worth pointing out that we’d be trading a single game that might possibly face conditions this cold* for a whole bunch of regular season games every year in late November and February…..(*–even in KC or Toronto or NE or NY this cold snap wouldn’t occur every year; temps are as likely to be 20 degrees warmer than average rather than 20 degrees colder, as occurred this week)

    But either way, it’s worth questioning whether any of the other cold-weather grass fields in MLS could have done so well. In fact, perhaps some intrepid reporter could occupy his “idle” off-season time by investigating which clubs globally have the best field-warming technology…,because if we are going to continue to debate the schedule shift, the ability of the fields to withstand winter should be part of the calculation

    • talgrath - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      No, I’m advocating for an earlier play date for the MLS Cup, such November.

  4. carryon1116 - Dec 8, 2013 at 2:12 AM

    Yea early December is usually 45 degrees and up for a lot of the country (new York and south for not mountainous areas) so nobody really expected these freezing temps..but then again it snowed in Philly during the WS

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