After a riveting 4-4 draw last week against Portland Thorns FC, Chicago Red Stars were ready to get back to work this weekend against Reign FC. The match would be the second of a two-game homestand for Chicago and was billed as the World Cup send-off match for U.S. National Team players.
While both teams were eager to play in the hunt for their first victory of the season, the two teams would have to wait an extra day as the tempestuous weather in the midwest had other plans for Saturday night.
The forecast leading up to the match had a cold, grey, and rainy Saturday. On game day in Bridgeview, the weather appeared to be holding up before kickoff.
I’m not saying it’s warm but the field is way better than the weather app predicted. 👍 pic.twitter.com/1hsKDdICdI— arnim (@arnimiii) April 27, 2019
However, as players took the field for warm-ups, the pitch was completely covered in a layer of icy snow, with even Head Coach Rory Dames getting in on the warm-ups action with the snow.
As warm-ups concluded, staff began an attempt to shovel and clear field lines, with ownership even doing their part.
After some off-field discussions, it was announced that the match was postponed and rescheduled to the following day. Red Stars defeated Reign FC, 3-0, in the rescheduled match, earning their first victory on the season.
What’s behind a postponement?
Back in November, as the offseason was underway, the league announced they were officially recognizing the NWSL players association as the exclusive bargaining representative of NWSL players. The players association had previously existed with no voluntary recognition from the league.
Prior to the official recognition, the association existed to represent NWSL players throughout the league, with an elected board and player representatives on each team.
This year, Chicago Red Stars player Brooke Elby is NWSL players association president. During postgame comments, Elby spoke about the decision to reschedule the match and her role in helping evaluate the situation the day prior.
“My role in it is just to make sure that the best interest of the players is always taken into consideration,” said Elby.
“Especially when there’s an environment [or] conditions that aren’t conducive to the safety of all players.”
Elby elaborated, “I think the league did a good job handling it, it just was a little frantic at a time period […] I think everyone did really well with just figuring it out and sorting it through today. But I think my role is just making sure I know my players feel safe and then we can reschedule to a day where everybody is just going to be in a better environment. For the fans, the league, the players, everyone.”
Last season saw a number of matches played in questionable conditions, with some matches played in sleet, extreme heat, or poor air quality in the Pacific Northwest due to smoke from wildfires where the league’s solution was to have oxygen readily available for players and enforced water breaks.
Amidst the Snow
“I think once we got out there we saw it was not what we had expected. I think we thought and hoped that the ice would melt and the snow, and you know, it’s not something that we have a lot of protocol for because this doesn’t happen very often at the end of April,” said Elby.
Elby says the discussion to postpone was a combination of multiple parties involved, along with a wait-and-see approach to the weather as players wanted to play in light of a shorter week due to a game on Friday.
“I think girls were sort of in between. They wanted to play, because now we have a short turnover for our next game. But then […] we want everyone to stay safe. I think it was a good decision, and I’m glad we got to come out here and perform the way we did today,” said Elby.
Elby subbed into the match at the 88th minute and would go on to score Chicago’s third goal in the 89th minute and helped put a stamp on the Red Stars first win in 2019. It was her first ever NWSL goal.