It seems that fire has followed Seattle Reign FC in more ways than one this past week. In addition to their back-to-back wins, Reign FC is now heading into its second game impacted by smoke, poor air quality, and heat.
Last weekend, in temperatures close to 100 degrees, Reign FC traveled to Sandy, Utah, and faced off against the Utah Royals. In addition to the heat, smoke surrounded the area due to nearby wildfires. The league instituted two water breaks per half in response and had oxygen on the sidelines if the teams needed it.
Just four days later, Seattle is facing the same scenario. With a home match planned against the Chicago Red Stars for Wednesday evening, the smoke that covered the Puget Sound region in full force on Monday continues to linger. As of 6 PM PT, the Air Quality Index in Seattle is at 129, which is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Luckily, that is lower than the Index this afternoon, which hovered closer to 170. Anything between 151-200 is deemed “unhealthy.”
In response to the poor air quality, the NWSL again mandated two water breaks each half. Those breaks will come at minutes 15, 30, 60, and 75. Seattle Reign FC will also make oxygen available on the sideline, and the UW Medicine medical team will be on hand to monitor players on both teams.
Given the poor air quality, for tonight's match against the @chiredstarsPR the @NWSL has mandated two water breaks per half, at 15, 30, 60, and 75 mins. In addition, oxygen will be available on the sideline, and the @UWMedicine medical team will be monitoring all players.— Seattle Reign FC (@ReignFC) August 15, 2018
While the air quality should be within safe ranges for the athletes and the general public, people with lung and heart diseases, older adults, and children should take caution and avoid activities outside.
So, with the Air Quality Index getting to Unhealthy levels this afternoon, why didn’t the league just reschedule the match? We don’t know their motivations, but if I had to guess, it was due to the fact that Chicago already has one match it needs to make up — against Sky Blue — and travels to Portland this weekend for a game on Saturday. There are only so many days remaining in the regular season schedule, and Chicago was already in town for the match.
Pushing it a day later certainly could have been possible, although it is possible Memorial Stadium was booked for ultimate frisbee of other competitive sports that use the field.
The show goes on, and the show could be rough for Reign FC tonight, as the team entered this match with a depleted roster due to injuries. Seattle will have just five players available off the bench — which includes their backup goalkeeper — leaving head coach Vlatko Andonovski with limited options in response to the state of the match.
Leaving with a point and no additional injuries feels like a win at this point in the day. Stay safe, all.