When Sporting Kansas City defeated Houston in the Eastern Conference finals on Nov. 23, it marked the coldest Major League Soccer game on record. It was only 22 degrees when the match started.
That mark may last only 14 days.
The temperature is expected to hover around 20 degrees during the MLS Cup at Sporting Park on Saturday, with a wind chill of 10 degrees.
But players say that won’t have much of an effect on the game.
“The cold is cold,” Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi said with a shrug of the shoulders. “When you’re moving around, it’s not a big deal.”
Except for the goalkeepers, who don’t move much during the game.
“I’ll make it pretty simple: It was ridiculous cold (against Houston),” Sporting KC goalie Jimmy Nielsen said. “I prefer around 65 (degrees) if I can order that on Saturday. Please.”
He’s unlikely to get his wish.
A crew blew snow off a tarp covering the Sporting Park field Friday to allow Real Salt Lake a one-hour training session.
The field is heated from underneath, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said, which should prevent it from freezing.
During the game Saturday, Sporting Park will open hot chocolate stands behind sections 116 and 128 and a chili bar behind section 134.
Olum ready to go
A month after suffering a fractured fibula, Sporting KC midfielder Lawrence Olum says he is ready to return to the lineup.
Olum was a full participant in training this week and says he feels no limitations from the leg injury that held him out of the past three playoff matches.
“The leg is feeling good. I’m ready,” Olum said. “…The most painful part was not being able to be on the field. I think I was on a roll with a couple of games, so it’s sad to happen like that.”
Nagamura tries for second title
Paulo Nagamura is the only player on the Sporting KC roster to appear in a MLS Cup. He won the championship game with the LA Galaxy in 2005. Josh Gardner was also a member of the team, but he did not play in the title match.
Nagamura says he’s provided his teammates a simple message this week.
“One thing I can say is these games are decided on details,” Nagamura said. “You have two very solid teams, so we have to ready for every roll of the ball. This is a game where one little play can decide everything.”