NWSL ridiculed for playing game on mini-field

The NWSL was mercilessly ridiculed by Seattle Reign coach Laura Harvey and U.S. women's national team players for the league's decision to allow the Reign's road match against the Western New York Flash to be played on a baseball field with dimensions of 100 by 58 yards.

The problem stemmed from a scheduling conflict. Rhinos Stadium, the Flash's home, was unavailable because of Rochester's SummerFest 2016 concerts featuring TLC at the facility.

But instead of rescheduling the game -- its seventh straight at home -- the Flash went ahead with the game and moved it to Frontier Field, the downtown baseball stadium where the USL Rhinos played for many years. Indeed, the Flash promoted the stadium as a "special place that will bring back countless memories for soccer fans in Rochester," according to Flash general manager Rich Randall.

The game drew 4,314 fans -- the Flash's second largest crowd of the season -- and they went home happy as the Flash won, 3-2, to pull to within two points of the first-place Portland Thorns, who dropped their first game of the season on Saturday.

But the images were brutal: the narrow markings of the field, far away from the sight of fans, made to look all the narrower by the placement of the cameras. Instead of playing the game on the baseball infield, like the Rhinos did, the game was confined to the baseball outfield.

That's what set off Reign coach Laura Harvey -- the decision not to configure the field like it was set up for the Rhinos.

“I was told the field was 110-by-61," she told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle."That’s 100-by-58. I got lied to the whole week. I’m not making excuses. We knew what they were going to do but that’s not acceptable. This league is supposed to be professional. That’s not good enough.”

On Saturday night, NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush responded to the criticism:

"The Western New York Flash hosted a home match at a different venue due to Rhinos Stadium not being available. 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. In retrospect, we made the wrong decision. As a professional league, we need to ensure that the integrity of the game is always respected both on and off the field. We did not do that tonight and we apologize to the NWSL players, coaches and fans. In the future, we will ensure that every NWSL match meets our standards.”

But that did not satisfy U.S. star Megan Rapinoe, who plays for the Reign but was with the USA for its game against South Africa.

7 comments about "NWSL ridiculed for playing game on mini-field".
  1. Bob Ashpole, July 10, 2016 at 11:49 p.m.

    It is narrow and short, but legal (100 x 50 min.). Not ideal but it is the same size for both teams.

  2. Raymond Weigand replied, July 12, 2016 at 1:14 p.m.


  3. Paul Roby, July 10, 2016 at 11:57 p.m.

    I don't know why the league thought playing on the baseball diamond wasn't acceptable when it apparently is for NYCFC playing in Yankee Stadium. I know it's not ideal but if their million-dollar stars can play there, then...

  4. Richard Brown, July 11, 2016 at 8:53 a.m.

    Playing on a narrow field.

    Just like to make a small point on switching point of attack.

    There can be a problem with a wing near the pressure disappearing for 15 minutes or more at a time in between touches because the ball keeps getting played away from his side to the other side of the field.

    This can even happen to very good players like it did to Landon Donovan in the Olympics, and it has happened to Freddy Adu when he was learning how to learn to play a wing position.

    You don't want these type of impact players to disappear because of lack of touches when the ball is switched away from their side of the field.

    You can prevent that by working with the wing in a functional way. When the wing recognizing the pressure moving towards him killing his space to play in. He moves out of wing towards the inside of the field. Behind and passed the pressured team mate with the ball who was moving to his side. Perfect position for the dribbler to lay the ball off to him (A Takeover) as he is moving away from pressure to more open space. If he gets the ball he can easily reverse the field to any one he wants on the far side of the field in one pass because he is facing the other side of the field to a wing mid or a wing back for example.

    He can also attack from that new position on the field that he finds himself in now. He can dribble or through pass, and if he is close to his attacking goal he may even be in a position to shoot on goal.

    So if you have a dangerous player who you want to see more touches especially if he plays a flank position. It is a very good way to play, and still be able to play away from pressure.

    It is also excellent when playing on a narrow field. You can do it even playing indoors on a small gym.

    I hope some found this useful.

  5. Ric Fonseca, July 11, 2016 at 3:26 p.m.

    For cripes sakes, even when I coached back during the last century, no youth, scholastic, collegiate or amateur affiliated or not, ever decided to play on such a small field. I agree 100% with Megan R, as the guy that delayed approval appeared to approve the field within minutes. I do remember my son's club team being scheduled on a similar size field, which myself and the other coach objected. Instead, we divided the field half field for each team and conducted our own practice. The league then rescheduled... and this took place in 1989!!! To Paul Roby, Yankee Stadium is a far greater joint to play on than the one mentioned above - difference 'tween night and day!!!

  6. Raymond Weigand, July 12, 2016 at 1:24 p.m.

    Same field for both teams - obviously the players have to be much better under pressure to play in a smaller area. The USSF just shrank all the fields and goal sizes for U12 and below ... why? It is much more challenging for the players and will showcase those teams that know how to share the space and move as a team. I like the way Chile pressures the entire field - it is quite exciting. Most teams use the giant-enormous field to slow the game down. Re-watch the numerous MLS and NLWS games - where one team is standing around without the ball ... the other team has half their team standing around ... while the defensive half (+GK) pass the ball back and forth and up and down and back and forth ... and somehow the stat of # of passes and % of possession is supposed to be representative of something worth counting.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, July 13, 2016 at 9:43 a.m.

    Comparing field sizes for U12 and a senior professional league is comparing apples to oranges. There are optimum sizes for both, and they are not the same. FIFA international standards are 110 to 120 x 70 to 80 yards, which represent optimum sizes for competition and what the USWNT pool and many others consider the standard. 100 x 58 is a very small field and negatively impacts play at the senior level. Playing on an undersized field is great preparation for playing matches on a standard field, but not the end objective.

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