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2016 WoSo Moments

XI WoSo Moments of 2016: The Fiasco at Frontier

Frontier Field's dimensions last Saturday were not deemed acceptable. Although the league approved an exception the Flash were fined for lack of organizational oversight.

Frontier Field’s dimensions back in July were not deemed acceptable. Although the league approved an exception, the Flash were fined for lack of organizational oversight.

On July 9 the Western New York Flash, having been chased out of their regular home base for a night, took the show to Frontier Field. Normally the home of the Rochester Red Wings baseball team the stadium had once housed the Rochester Raging Rhinos. The club promoted the night as a triumphant return to an old stomping ground for Rochester soccer.

Unfortunately, for reasons still open to interpretation, the field was laid out entirely within the confines of the grassy outfield of the baseball dimensions. If the cramped dimensions of the soccer layout at Yankee Stadium are considered less than ideal, they would have been a sight for sore eyes at Frontier Field that night. Space was non-existent. Throw-ins became de factor corner kicks. Seattle Reign FC, among other complaints, said the 18-yard boxes were not exactly opposite each other. Several national outlets picked up on the images and gave NWSL some rare air time.

Things came to a head near the end of the first half when Reign keeper Haley Kopmeyer went down trying to come off her line. As she writhed in pain and critics quickly blamed the condition of the pitch (never substantiated), Kopmeyer waited for an ambulance to take her to a nearby hospital. The extended wait caused Reign coach Laura Harvey to say afterward the Flash refused to take Kopmeyer to the hospital. The Flash later denied it, chalking the wait up to driver confusion.

Through it all the match was relatively well played. Lynn Williams had a goal—she would need every one of them to claim a share of the league lead—that turned out to be the winner in a 3-2 Flash victory.

By the end of the night the league had issued an acknowledgment that they gave the go-ahead to play on the truncated pitch, apologized to fans, and offered assurances it would not happen again. The league apology did not stop them from sanctioning the Flash. Following a week-long media blackout the league announced a fine of “a significant amount” to the Flash. At the same time the club also apologized for allowing the situation to get so out of hand.

The Fiasco at Frontier challenged the notion that no publicity is bad publicity and shone the league in a negative light (MLS was similarly criticized for a layout issue that delayed a semifinal match in Montreal but escaped without the glaring visuals and widespread vitriol) around the globe.


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