Hours before Wednesday’s kickoff in Houston between the hometown Dash and Seattle Reign FC, the National Women’s Soccer League announced the immediate implementation of cooling breaks for excessive climate conditions.
Seattle won 4-1 to clinch the regular season title. One of those goals came in the 78th minute, about a minute after the end of the second-half cooling break ended. Postgame, Dash rookie midfielder Kealia Ohai, who scored Houston’s lone goal on the night, expressed her displeasure with the stoppages.
“It’s extremely unnecessary and it’s extremely, just laughable, almost,” Ohai said postgame, via Keeper Notes. “I’m sorry, it is. It’s just — we’ve been playing in this for 20 years. We need a water break?”
The new procedure, effective for the remainder of the NWSL season, calls for cooling breaks in approximately the 30th and 75th minutes when conditions warrant it. The decision to utilize a cooling break must be made solely by the match referee one hour prior to kickoff. According to the NWSL, “cooling breaks are mandated if the heat index reaches 89 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.”
The procedure is similar to the one which was implemented by FIFA for this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Temperatures in Houston reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday. The temperature at kickoff was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index of 92 degrees Fahrenheit, according to weather.com.
All that said, Dash coach Randy Waldrum is more concerned about a schedule that crunches 24 games into four months than he is about his players having to deal with the heat.
“I worry more about playing five games in 14 days than I do playing when it’s a little bit hot outside,” Waldrum said. “So I think we’ve got other issues besides a water break that we need to address if we are really worried about player health and player health.”
Dash managing director Brian Ching also didn’t seem to see the need for cooling breaks:
The whole time I played for the Dynamo we had 1 water break. Now the World Cup has 1 and they want to implement them in the league.
— Brian Ching (@brianching) July 31, 2014
Seattle, of course, wasn’t as concerned with getting some extra water breaks in the hot Texas setting. As Waldrum pointed out, Reign FC scored right after three of the four restarts in the match. Seattle forward Sydney Leroux opened that scoring less than 90 seconds into the match.
“It’s definitely necessary,” Leroux said after the match. “Obviously it’s different; it slows the game down. You’re able to talk about what you need to fix, but you also need water, so it was nice for us.”
Here’s the full video from Keeper Notes:
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