Room for improvement: Adjusted kickoff times still concerning issue for NWSL players

Pride v. Dash_highlight (3 of 3)

Saturday’s game between the Orlando Pride and Houston Dash at Orlando City Stadium was not ideal.

Heat continued to play a factor during another NWSL regular season match, only this time the proper measures were used since the league announced new protocol when playing games in extreme heat.

For the Pride, it was their first game under the league’s new guidelines, but it brought concerning opinions from players from both teams.

Upon kickoff at 3:50 p.m., the heat index in downtown Orlando peaked 95 degrees fahrenheit, which was enough to warrant two mandatory water breaks in the 30th and 67th minute.

Pride captain Ali Krieger, who voiced her opinion before the league instituted the new rules, agreed on the mandatory water breaks, but argued the timing of the game could have been played later when temperatures begin to cool down.

“Unfortunately we had to play at 3:50 … I still don’t understand that,” said Krieger after the game. “I think they need readjust it, in my opinion. I can’t speak for the team or the league, but they need to really readjust that because it is hot, and taking those water breaks is great, and needed, but it takes away the momentum of the game a little bit.”

The Pride eventually lost 2-0 against the Dash in a game that was aired nationally on Lifetime during its game of the week.

Houston forward Carli Lloyd agreed there is room for improvement, but was optimistic about the league making strides for its players to play in safe conditions.

“I get it, Lifetime has come on board, and we’re really thankful for they’ve come on as a full time sponsor, airing all these games, it’s really, really, important for the years to come with this league,” Lloyd told the Orlando Soccer Journal. “I’m sure we’re going to re-evaluate after this season, and figure out what can be better. It’s kind of what we’ve done every year, but it’s tough to kick off at 3:30, especially, in places like Orlando. But it is what it is, and as long as we’re not being put in super dangerous conditions, we’ve got to gut it out… we gotta fight. You have to be well-hydrated, well-prepared going into the match.”

Pride coach Tom Sermanni also voiced his concern, but agreed it sounded more as an excuse for his team losing, but at the same time said the extreme heat prevents a larger crowd from attending games.

“Ideally this is not the perfect time to play games,” said Sermanni. “Particularly in Florida and particularly in the summer, 4 o’clock makes it difficult but again, if I start to go into details about that I am really making excuses. Houston played very well today, so for me to look at a reason that we didn’t play well and use the weather for that, I think, would be misleading.

“Obviously, down here, I think our preferred kick-off time would be sometime in the evening. I think that’s better for the crowd and better for the game and better for the players.”

What are your thoughts on attending games in the afternoon during extreme heat weather? Share your comments below.

(Photo by Adrian Hernandez / Orlando Soccer Journal) 

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