HomeSportsUSMNT ripped for ‘inconceivable’ 2-degree World Cup qualifier
USMNT ripped for ‘inconceivable’ 2-degree World Cup qualifier
February 3, 2022
Choosing to play soccer outdoors in early February in Minnesota doesn’t seem like the wisest idea.
But that is what the United States men’s national team decided to do to gain a supposed advantage over Honduras on Wednesday night for a World Cup qualifying match in St. Paul, where the kickoff temperature was 2 degrees with a real feel of -14. The result? A 3-0 win for the USMNT, and two Honduras players leaving the game at halftime, one of them due to a reported case of hypothermia.
Before the match, Honduras coach Hernan Dario Gomez blasted US Soccer over the decision to play the game in such conditions.
“It’s inconceivable that a power in every sense would bring you here to play a game and get a result. The game hasn’t started, but I can’t wait for it to end. Because it’s not for enjoying, it’s for suffering,” said Gomez, who added after the match that some of his players needed an IV.
The theory for the US was that its Central American foes would not be used to the cold. However, questions have been raised about player safety. Several USMNT players remarked after the game about how cold it was, with goalkeeper Matt Turner saying his “boogers are frozen.”
USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter — who also came under fire on Twitter for posing for a picture with fans while the game was still going on — defended the decision to play the game in St. Paul after the win.
“We provided Honduras and their staff and the referees with (cold)-weather gear, we provided them with head gear, trying to make it a safer environment for them to play in,” Berhalter said, according to The Athletic. “When we go down to those countries and it’s 90 degrees and 90 percent dew point and it’s unbearable humidity and guys are getting dehydrated and cramping up and getting heat exhaustion, that’s the nature of our competition.
“When we scheduled this game in this location, you have to go by daily average temperatures. And it was the best guess, we wanted to minimize travel, we knew we were going to be playing in cold weather in two of the games and we figured to do it in the third game, as well, instead of switching climates. A cold spell came through and it’s something we can’t control, but all we can do once that happens is try to mitigate the risk by having (cold)-weather gear and going out there and competing, and we did that.”
Before the game started, broadcasters for the Spanish-language network, TUDN, wet a T-shirt and showed that it quickly became completely frozen.
The win leaves the USMNT in a strong position to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. The team is in second place, four points behind Canada, with three qualifying games remaining. The top three teams in the eight-team CONCACAF standings will qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth-place team will enter into a playoff against a team from another region.