Copa Central: Extreme heat plagues opening weekend

The Copa Centenario has been billed as a showcase for what a World Cup could be like in the United States, but a big issue is the summer heat. While much has been made of what it will be like in 2022 when Qatar hosts the World Cup, teams felt the extreme heat on the first weekend of the tournament.

Levi's Stadium was sweltering as a heat wave took temperatures well above 90 degrees for the start of USA-Colombia. Fortunately, there was little humidity, and temperatures dropped as the sun began to set after the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.

Temperatures hit 115 degrees on Sunday outside University of Phoenix Stadium, which fortunately had air conditioning for Mexico-Uruguay. (The heat wave so bad Phoenix authorities advised residents to stay indoors.)

Players who took the field for Paraguay-Costa Rica had it worst, though. Temperatures at humid Orlando's Camping World Stadium reached 93 at the 5:30 p.m. kickoff.

"It's crazy to play at the time we played," Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz said. "I would like to see a little more consideration and respect for the real protagonists, who are the players."

GOALS, GOALS, NOT. Saturday's three games produced just one goal, and the first six games at the Copa Centenario featured just eight goals, for an average of 1.3 goals a game. The opening six games of the last three Copa American tournaments have produced just 25 goals, an average of 1.4 goals per game. By comparison, that's just one goal more than the 24 scored in the opening six games in 2007 when the USA last participated in the tournament. (It opened with a 4-1 loss to Argentina, falling after Eddie Johnson gave it the lead in the 9th minute.)

CROWD COUNT. The first six games at the Copa Centenario averaged 40,118 fans a game, above the stated target of Copa Centenario organizers of an average of 35,000 fans a game.

The USA-Colombia opener drew an announced crowd of 67,439, though there were sections of Levi's Stadium with lots of empty seats.

Copa Centenario Crowds:
67,439 USA-Colombia (Santa Clara, Calif.)
60,025 Mexico-Uruguay (Glendale, Ariz.)
53,158 Brazil-Ecuador (Pasadena, Calif.)
25,560 Venezuela-Jamaica (Chicago)
20,190 Peru-Haiti (Seattle)
14,334 Costa Rica-Paraguay (Orlando)

WASTON SEES RED, AGAIN. The first ejection of the Copa Centenario went to a player who knows what it is like to see red. Costa Rica's Kendall Waston, who was sent off for a tackle from behind late in its 0-0 tie with Paraguay. Waston, who will miss the Ticos' game against the USA on Tuesday, has two red cards and five yellow cards in 11 games for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2016.

Other red cards went to Andre Guardado (Mexico), Matias Vecino (Uruguay) and Rodolph Austin (Jamaica).
10 comments about "Copa Central: Extreme heat plagues opening weekend".
  1. Ginger Peeler, June 6, 2016 at 11:18 a.m.

    Easton has racked up 7 cards in 11 games for the 2016 Whitecaps? Well, he's gaining a reputation, but not one to be proud of.

  2. Allan Lindh, June 6, 2016 at 2:26 p.m.

    Morons schedule games in the south in midday. What do you expect? If you have to have midday games to service the TV gods, at least have the brains to schedule them in Seattle and Portland.

  3. beautiful game replied, June 6, 2016 at 5:34 p.m.

    I agree with Allan and Kevin...poor planning and outrageous ticket prices will eventually start to sink this sport.
    The 1994 WC is a prime example of watching a contest that is slower paced and impacted by fatigue.

  4. Kevin Leahy, June 6, 2016 at 4:59 p.m.

    It was hot in 1994 & it will get hot every summer. Th lack of attendance is do to the outrageous ticket prices, I was going to attend in Philly until I saw the price. These people are trying to confuse this with the World Cup.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, June 7, 2016 at 10 a.m.

    Yes, you can get away with fairly high prices for the US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina etc. but for Costa Rica-Paraguay? For those matches, the prices need to be much lower. Even then, it makes no sense to have it in a 60k+ stadium. You wouldn't get that many even if it were free.

  6. Claus Fischer, June 8, 2016 at 5:56 a.m.

    Unless it is a 9 p.m. kickoff time (local time, not EST) in the month of June, well, you'd better be playing in Minneapolis, Seattle, or Portland. Maybe Boston. A 12 year old kid who plays Little League Baseball can tell a tournament organizer that. Lessons learned from scalding heat and oppressive humidity during World Cup matches of 1994? None. Remember: It is never about the sporting quality. It is about maximizing money and defrauding the naive fans. (Those very poor attendance figures for the opening weekend? Brazil in Pasadena? Those attendance figures are downright embarrassing.)

  7. Claus Fischer, June 8, 2016 at 6:45 a.m.

    I wonder why a former world star player like Ramon Diaz (Argentina/River Plate) and long-serving coach/manager in the game couldn't have taken the Copa America organizers to task for a 5:00 p.m. start time in Orlando long before this past weekend? It is not like one could not have known well in advance the temperature, humidity and dew points for the first weekend in June in Orlando. Bellyaching after the fact on behalf of the "protagonists" (his Paraguay players) is irresponsible and rather immature. Diaz is a World Cup winner from 1978 and a top sports figure throughout South America. He really couldn't bring his expertise and stature to bear prior to the start of the tournament? Sometime back in January at the latest? What a farce. On him, yes. But far more a farce as perpretrated by the Copa tournament organizers.

  8. Claus Fischer, June 8, 2016 at 10:24 a.m.

    People forget that a 5 p.m. kickoff means lots of things are taking place in that stadium and all that surrounds it 4, 5, 6 and even 10 hours prior. If it is a heat index issue, as is typically the case, one is then having to carefully look after stadium personnel, media staffs, international media (unaccustomed to a different environment) and nowadays hundreds of various security personnel. Heat issues are real. For the fans arriving as well. Most are not sitting in perfectly air conditioned buses or restaurants nearby. Many make big efforts and long distance pilgrimages to include coming on foot. All these people are dealing with the heat for hours before kickoff. As are the players in their warmups back at their host hotels and then in the 40, 45 or even 60 minutes prior to kickoffs. As a coach and team staff member, that means already having to monitor closely these athletes' hydration and core body temperatures. The expectation that they can then perform at even 70-75% of capacity and then justify the media attention, fan attention, and upscale costs of putting on the event is ludicrous. No wonder these games are so low scoring with such few shots on target or corners earned. I doubt even that the domed facilities provide sufficient air/moisture/ventilation combinations for athleticism excellence. How can they if playing on a natural surface?

  9. Claus Fischer, June 8, 2016 at 11:21 a.m.

    Today for Orlando's match. During warmups at just after 6:20 p.m. Florida time: It will be at least 91 degrees F on the pitch. With 66% (and rising) humidity. Kickoff at 7 p.m. will feature 89 degrees F and 72% humidity (still rising). Humidity will be at 82% at game's end. Don't even ask what the dew points will be. This is insane for a sprinting, cutback, endurance sport where fans come to see action, movement, tricks and explosiveness at times. Nice going, Copa organizers. This is Manaus 2014 all over again. (As well as Orlando in June 2014 - all over again. People forget the Belgian player who dropped to the turf in heat exhaustion in the 55th minute of play. When revived, he did not return to the match.)

  10. Claus Fischer, June 8, 2016 at 11:24 a.m.

    Sorry -- typo error on the year. Orlando men's World Cup. Multiple games hosted in June 1994 with starts at 2 p.m. Match with Belgian player dropping like a sack of potatoes to the turf was Belgium-Netherlands, for both their final group game. June 1994.

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