Aren’t we further along than this?
That was the message from a clearly perturbed Mike Petke whom, despite the victory, was not pleased with the conditions of Sunday’s encounter against FC Dallas.
“Listen, my hats off to my team as well as Dallas’ team,” he said after the match. “It’s a terrible environment to play in. It’s unhealthy, it’s unsafe, so my hats off to all these players.”
The game time temperature was at 89 degrees, but quickly rose to near 94. Field temperatures were undisclosed, but typically, these types of encounters can push climate close to or above 100 degrees.
The most damning aspect of the entire scenario is how avoidable it all could have been. Clearly, the time and date for their encounter should have offered a hint of a problem when the league decided to put together it’s schedule. New York faced Dallas at 2 p.m. in the afternoon; peak time for heat under the Texas sun, leaving Petke to wonder why it happened in the first place..
“To have to go and play in the conditions we played in today … I’ll be honest, I thought those games were behind us, of the league playing in these certain games because of TV schedules, something, I don’t know what the reason is.”
Petke is no stranger to nasty playing conditions. They were, of course, the norm of MLS 1.0. The league routinely bent over backwards in order to accommodate television time, instead of protecting their players. Summer matches were amplified by gridiron, artificial turf, turning a hot day into a virtual furnace.
While the league has grown leaps and bounds since his playing days, the Red Bull boss thought Sunday’s encounter in a sweltering Toyota Field was an uncomfortable reminder of where the league was — not where it should be today.
Of course, with experience comes the ability to prepare. The date and time at Frisco were a telegraphed warning of what to expect.
“Because of this weather, we always knew, with the field how dry it is and hard, we knew it would always be an ugly game,” Petke said.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, who earned New York’s only goal of the game, echoed his boss’s sentiments. “It was very difficult to play in that game,” he said. “The pitch was hard, it was bobbley.
“I wouldn’t want to be a fan out there.”
“There were some decent things out there from both teams,” Petke concedes, “but at the end of the day, playing in those conditions, we will obviously take the win.”