When the LA Galaxy kicked off their match against the Chicago Fire yesterday at 3:00pm central time, it was rapidly approaching the 3:45 high of ninety-two degrees with thirty-six percent humidity. It's not the most pleasant weather to play a soccer match in, and afterwards Bruce Arena and captain Robbie Keane were not shy about telling the press their feelings.
"Awful game today," said Bruce Arena. "I can't tell you how many times we've told the league when it's this hot and humid in Chicago in June, we don't want to play afternoon games. This is not fair for the players. It's difficult. It's not fair for the fans. We shouldn't be playing this game at this time. Difficult, difficult game for the players to deal with."
The timing of the match made it a perfect doubleheader with the United States match against Turkey in New Jersey that was broadcast on ESPN2. However, this match wasn't broadcast on ESPN, it was a regional broadcast so any effects of the lead in were likely negligible.
Why the league hasn't listened to Arena's repeated requests not to have afternoon games in June when it's hot and humid in Chicago is a fair question. Soccer is an all-weather sport, just look at the qualifier played in a Colorado snowstorm last year, but LA had to sub out Dan Gargan with heatstroke concerns and certainly he wasn't the only one feeling ill effects.
"I don't know who makes these fucking stupid decisions," said Robbie Keane. "Play a fucking game at three o'clock in the afternoon. Who wants to watch that crap? Do you? I don't want to watch that crap. These people who haven't got a clue about soccer make these decisions when we play a game. Why not play at eight o'clock? It wasn't on national television. It's so stupid."
The first sixty minutes of the match was pretty hard to watch, as players on both sides showed signs of heavy legs. The LA Galaxy went without a shot on goal until Landon Donovan smashed in Robbie Roger's cross, and if it weren't for a errant penalty call favoring Chicago would not have had an on target shot from inside the penalty area.
The scheduling did prevent any overlap between the Fire and the Chicago Blackhawks who lost in a game seven matchup with the Los Angeles Kings. However the hockey schedule was made quite recently while the MLS schedule has been out since the beginning of the year.
We'll see if any fines are doled out for the tirades, but I doubt MLS heeds the content of the rants. We'll still see players expected to play through hot summer days.