The Seattle Reign FC players (along with their peers in the league) have had their say. Now head coach/general manager Laura Harvey has presented her comments about the modified field at Frontier Field in Rochester, New York today. Reign FC played Western New York Flash to a 3-2 loss.
Just want to be clear around the facts of tonight. pic.twitter.com/lTvFdVZ0LD— Laura Harvey (@LH1505) July 10, 2016
This is a follow up to her initial post-match comments made to Jeff DiVeronica’s Democrat & Chronicle, where she criticized the officiating crew for reversing their decision and awarding Western New York Flash a goal where goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer injured her ankle. Regarding the treatment of Kopmeyer’s injury, Harvey said post-match that Western New York Flash refused to take Kopmeyer to the hospital as part of her criticism (calling it a "disgrace") of how long it took for medical assistance to tend to Kopmeyer.
Let’s go back and break down Harvey’s expanded statement in the tweet above.
May 31st: Team is notified by Western New York Flash of intention to play at Frontier Field with dimensions of 110 x 61 with no detailed information about other field aspects being modified. Just that they would be playing on a "very nice grass field."
It’s certainly fair to think whatever questions the Reign had about the venue change and the state of the field were asked and answered by Western New York with full faith over the course of days between May 31st and when the team traveled to Rochester on Thursday.
Today @ 1:30 PM: Team finds out field dimensions are actually 100 x 58 (which was confirmed by the Western New York Flash broadcast crew) and that (league) officials would rule the field unsuitable unless certain improvements were made.
Today @ 5 PM: The field is determined suitable to play despite Harvey’s claims that whatever changes were requested were not honored.
And it’s at that point that we’re left to ask questions knowing what we know now and how the match played out.
What were the changes that NWSL officials said needed to happen in order to make the field suitable for play?
If Harvey is correct in that they weren’t changed, what made NWSL officials change their mind and say the field was okay to play on?
Was there any point between 1:30 to 5 PM per Harvey’s timeline of events where Reign could have played the match under protest, if not outright refused to play because of the unsuitable field? And if so, what are the ramifications for a team that refuses to play a NWSL match?
During the match and as we were all watching in awe at how narrow the field was, Jeff Kassouf tweeted that multiple venues were considered for tonight’s match. If that was the case, what were those locations and what about them made it unfeasible to hold the match since Rhino’s Stadium was hosting a 90s Throwback concert night? Was there even a possibility of rescheduling the match so it could have been played at Rhino’s Stadium?
Another major question to ask after reading Harvey’s comments is if Western New York Flash refused to take Kopmeyer to the hospital for further evaluation of her injury - how is that even possible? Another question in the neighborhood of that is how/why did it take so long for medical assistance beyond the team’s physio to tend to Kopmeyer? What if her or any other player had suffered a more catastrophic injury or the ultimate scary scenario, cardiac arrest like what happened to Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba in 2012? Obviously you don’t want to think of something scarier happening at any sporting event, but Harvey’s comments immediately after the match ought to make you think about Western New York Flash’s and the rest of the league’s procedures in the event of a major medical emergency.
What started out as a day of celebrating a milestone with Hope Solo achieving 150 international wins and 100 clean sheets, ended in the NWSL getting mainstream attention for all the wrong reasons. The comments made by Harvey and Reign FC players are echoed by their peers in the league and in the past Harvey has been fined by the league whenever she’s made criticisms of match officials. However this is bigger than just the ref having a bad night in the office. This is calling out the league and questioning its legitimacy. Over the course of one match, the reputation of the NWSL got roasted and the furor over this isn’t subduing anytime soon.
July 9, 2016 could very well be a turning point in which the NWSL finally gets the message from fans, media and most importantly their own labor force that for all the growing pains there are in its infancy, it’s time to grow up.