Portland Thorns FC’s Twitter unintentionally started rumors Monday night that the NWSL championship might be rescheduled from its 9 a.m. start time after the team announced the ticket presale had been postponed.
Meg Linehan of The Athletic told NWSL fans it wasn’t something to get too excited about.
“Have been told we shouldn’t be reading into this announcement — team just needed to push back for their own logistical reasons,” she tweeted Tuesday morning.
Have been told we shouldn’t be reading into this announcement — team just needed to push back for their own logistical reasons. #NWSL https://t.co/n4eJLRBONe— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) September 14, 2021
Have been told we shouldn’t be reading into this announcement — team just needed to push back for their own logistical reasons. #NWSL https://t.co/n4eJLRBONe
So for now, it seems, the final match will remain on a turf pitch with a bright-and-early 9 a.m. local time kickoff.
When the time and location of the NWSL championship were first announced, players openly criticized the league for putting the game on turf. But while turf is more likely to cause injury than grass is, it’s the early morning kickoff time that has players concerned no one will be putting their best foot forward.
“Not only is it tough as a player to prepare for a game that starts at that time, but I just don’t think it’s putting the game on a stage it deserves,” said Kansas City defender Rachel Corsie. “You want it to stand alone and speak for itself, and it needs to be on at prime time and it needs to be given the opportunity to bring in the atmosphere and be an experience that fans can enjoy.”
On a typical game day, many players would sleep in and eat a good meal for breakfast with enough time left over to digest, have single and unit meetings with coaches, refuel in the afternoon, unwind and then focus on the emotional and mental prep needed before heading to the stadium.
With a 9 a.m. kickoff, hardly any of that is possible.
“I think at the end of the day, the people responsible for making this decision need to also be people who value the league at its absolute highest,” said Corsie, who added that she didn’t think this was simply a case of the NWSL being dealt a bad hand.
“I think there were decisions that were made along the way, and I’m sure some difficult decisions, but equally I think we need to stand up for what we truly believe is the best for our sport, and I’m not sure playing that game at 9 a.m. on a turf field is the best we can do.”
When asked for comment, CBS deferred to NWSL PR. The NWSL did not respond to a request for comment.
In terms of the location of the championship game, the turf is the only downfall. Of the 10 most-attended matches in NWSL history, only two took place away from Providence Park, home of Portland Thorns FC.
“They do an excellent job of making an experience that fans like to turn up to and that sets a standard for the other clubs,” said Corsie.
The Thorns themselves aren’t complaining about the championship being played at their own field. Dominating the NWSL standings, they’re favored to have a spot in the final.
Portland head coach Mark Parsons reacted to the NWSL’s initial announcement on Sept. 5 with positivity.
🔥 https://t.co/SUVM7osJau— Mark Parsons (@mparsons_1) September 5, 2021
For Thorns midfielder Natalie Kuikka, the focus isn’t on where the final’s being played but on actually getting there.
“It’s nice, obviously, when – I’m saying ‘when’ because obviously I think we’ll be in the final – so when we play in the final, for us it’s a big advantage, of course, but at the end of the day for me it doesn’t really matter where I play,” she said.
“No matter what you just want to perform, so that’s what I’m going to do in the final when I get there with the team.”