Chaos in the MLS: Snowstorm During Match Raises Safety Concerns and Arbitrary Decisions

Extreme weather conditions during the match between Los Angeles FC and Real Salt Lake spark controversy and question the league's and organizers' responsibility

Los Angeles Football Club v Real Salt Lake
Los Angeles Football Club v Real Salt Lake / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

This past Saturday, the match between Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and Real Salt Lake (RSL) was marked by a bleak and challenging scenario when a sudden snowstorm turned the playing field into virtually impassable terrain. What was supposed to be a sporting spectacle turned into a stage for heated criticism and concerns about the safety of the athletes.

LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo didn't mince words expressing his outrage at the conditions under which the match took place. In statements to the press, Cherundolo labeled the situation as an "absolute disgrace," vehemently criticizing the decision to proceed with the game amidst the snowstorm. His main concern was the safety of the players, highlighting the impossible playing conditions and stating that the match should have been called off much earlier.

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The controversy surrounding the match's continuation wasn't confined solely to the field. The decision to delay the kickoff for two hours due to strong winds and later postpone it again for another hour due to nearby lightning raised questions about the organizers' competence in handling adverse weather situations. What was meant to be a preventive measure turned into a spectacle of chaos and uncertainty.

The players faced extreme weather conditions, with temperatures nearly freezing and reduced visibility due to heavy snow. Such a scenario compromised not only the athletes' technical performance but also their physical safety. Hugo Lloris, the World Cup-winning goalkeeper for France, who was playing his second match for LAFC, was one of those who faced these adverse conditions.

The MLS's response to this episode was also questioned. The league was contacted by the press to comment on Cherundolo's statements, but has yet to issue any statement. This omission suggests a lack of responsibility on the part of the organization to own up to mistakes made in managing the event.

On the other hand, Real Salt Lake coach Pablo Mastroeni took a more conciliatory stance, praising his players' "mentality" for not allowing external circumstances to affect their performance. Mastroeni emphasized the importance of quickly adapting to adverse conditions, controlling what is within the team's reach.

Despite the resilience shown by the players, it cannot be ignored that holding the match under such extreme conditions was a clear mistake. Besides jeopardizing the athletes' physical integrity, the event compromised the quality and legitimacy of the competition.