Top Stories

MLS official gives detailed explanation for RBNY-D.C. postponement


HARRISON, N.J. — MLS tried time and time again to ensure that the second leg of the New York Red Bulls-D.C. United’s Eastern Conference semifinals would be played on Wednesday, but mother nature refused to cooperate.

MLS was forced to postpone the Red Bulls-D.C. United game at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night due to heavy snowfall from a nor’easter covering the field and making it unplayable. Groundscrew members tried to shovel off the snow even after the original kickoff time in an effort to see the match played, but the weather made it impossible.

“Obviously, it’s a difficult set of circumstances from the time that we got to the arena,” said MLS executive vice president Nelson Rodriguez. “There were a lot of factors that were considered in originally making this decision to play on Wednesday. Looking at the forecast over time, at no point was it clear that there would be so much so snow and when we decided to make the effort to play, we were hoping to see that effort through.

“In the end, we did not feel we could get the field into a playable enough condition and therefore that caused the postponement.”

Rodriguez admitted there was no deadline for the league to make a decision on if the match would be played but he said forecasts had the storm passing after midnight, which was too late for the match to be played.

The second leg of the Red Bulls-United series is now scheduled for Thursday at 730pm and the delay of that game will also push back the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, which was slated to start on Saturday.

“The Eastern Conference championship leg one will move from Saturday to Sunday,” said. “We decided it would be unfair for the winner of this semifinals series to have to play the winner of Houston (Dynamo)-Sporting Kansas City, having played Thursday (then) Saturday.”

Rodriguez added that the original forecast was for heavy winds and rain, which contradicted Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe’s comments on Tuesday. Backe said the Wednesday night match should have been postponed or moved to an earlier time because the storm was set to peak around kickoff.

Rodriguez also stated part of the reason MLS attempted to have the game on Wednesday night was because moving the game earlier proved difficult due to lack of available stadium and city workers, as well as trying to help appease local fans that were affected by the recent hurricane that ravaged the tri-county area.

“We were very mindful of what the impact of this nor’easter could be and we were also very mindful of the trauma that has been experienced by the region from Hurricane Sandy,” said Rodriguez. “In the end, we felt that making an attempt to play today gave us the best chance to get this game in. Normally, had it not been for the events of last week and the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, there wouldn’t have been a consideration to move the game in advance.

“We did consider that. We considered an earlier start time, we considered postponing to tomorrow (on Tuesday) and even had discussions as early as this morning. But we thought that the forecast was one that gave us a window and opportunity to play the game and play it safely and to cause the least disruption to the overall playoff schedule. Unfortunately, nature has a funny way of playing tricks on people.”

The postponement of the the game should allow more fans to come out to the match, and the few hundred that turned out on Wednesday night will be able to return on Thursday. As for the approximately 700 D.C. United supporters who took buses to turn out to Red Bull Arena, they headed back to the nation’s capital after the announcement of the match’s postponement.

Rodriguez said they could return tomorrow via bus if they wished to do so.

“The league, and through great generosity of New York Red Bull, provided those tickets and buses to those supporters. That was in homage and recognition to having to flip-flop the order of games to begin with (because of Hurricane Sandy).

“The league has already expressed, and Red Bull has been very generous for their part as well and have expressed to D.C. United that if fans wish to return in an organized fashion through buses, we will organize that on their behalf.”


  1. What NY should do is, if they are in the playoffs next time as a top seed over DC, offer to swap the home field advantage. Would show class.

  2. Play a game in snow?? Don’t give me this BS of safety of players, fans, etc. Fans sit in inclement weather in a few sports already. If these players are such primadonnas that they’re worried about pulled muscles, then they shouldn’t be on the pitch. Get over it and play like you have some toughness. I’m sure many of you have played in horrible conditions like myself and didn’t complain. Soccer is soccer no matter what the weather. MLS has lost respect for this.

    • Ok, but if DC loses & Chris Pontius blows an ACL and misses the 2013 season…DC fans would’ve been outraged that it was played, so, it’s a lose-lose. Mayor of NY told everyone to not go outside after 3pm. At the very least, you pull the plug at that point. Though, we all knew it was going to blow at 8pm Tuesday, could’ve called it then without hosing 9 busses of fans.

      And, FYI, for all of the geniuses on the undersoil heating…it’s done to keep the ground from freezing so that grass can grow in the winter. You can’t flip a switch and clear 7 inches of falling snow with it.

      Maybe the racoons in RFK could’ve cleared it faster, who knows….

    • What’s so wrong about being worried about pulling a muscle? Since when is self preservation (and in this instance, preservation of your team’s depth) is a bad thing?

      I’ve played in snow many times and it’s fun as hell, but it’s different when you’re talking about the pro level, especially during playoffs.

      You guys act like in europe they don’t cancel games due to weather. lol

  3. I find it funny that people are blaming Rbny for this. If you want to blame someone then either blame the league or mother nature. Rbny didn’t want to play.

    I think it was the right decision to postpone. It would not have been soccer and who knows how many players end up with groin/hamstring pulls/strains.

    • They are blaming NYRB because the coach openly said he didnt want the game played because it wouldn’t be a soccer game, it would be a game of luck. We can play in pouring rain, unbearable heat, and freezing cold temperatures – but snow is too much?… come on man!!!! Has anybody ever watched a Bundesliga game played in the snow (happened in the last couple of weeks) before or an NFL game played in the snow – are you saying those leagues don’t care about the safety of the players??? Play the game, both teams are dealing with the same conditions.

      • @fischy: Yes it was a mistake. But it wasn’t RBNY’s. It was the leagues’s and NBCSN’s.

        @Steve: First off, what so bad with the coach trying to protect the players from injuring themselves? Second, heat, cold and water is no problem. The drainage and heating systems deal with the flooded/frozen pitches and the heat does not effect the playing surface (that much).

        All those games where they played in snow, that was nice fluffy snow. It wasn’t that wet slush that was coming down. You can’t play in that. In Germany there has been many games cancelled with similar weather conditions.

        NFL can play in any surface because, guess what, they don’t let the ball touch the ground.

  4. This was a total fiasco & once again, MLS did whatever they could to protect a media darling team (NY, LA, SEA). I really hope DC win like 4-0 tonight, just to shove it in the league’s and NY’s faces for all the ways DC’s been screwed in this series. Jim is also right on.


      • Yeah — that’s not how that should work. First, you clear the snow off the tarp, and then you roll it up. Word is they picked the tarp up at 4:30. I guess, that was because they didn’t have the crews to remove the snow. Mostly, I blame the league and not the club, because I doubt this would have made a difference. Still, it’s on the club that they did this.

  5. I was there. It was clear the moment I saw the field it wouldn’t happen. MLS looks ridiculous for trying so hard to make them play. I am sure it mostly had to do with TV contracts. In the end they look Busch League in my opinion. Should have been postponed earlier in the day.

  6. Red Bulls aren’t without blame here. They should have used their considerable weight with the league to push harder for an earlier postponement. But even if they tried that and failed, at the BARE MINIMUM they should have been much more responsible in their communications to fans. Everywhere- answering phones, on the website, on Twitter and Facebook- the messaage was the same: “The game is still scheduled to go on. Be safe, but we’ll have extra shuttle buses from Newark Penn Station to get you here.” Even after the forcast had changed midday, and even after it got BAD about 5 pm.
    TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE. Any decent organization would have sent this message: “The game is currently scheduled to be played. But all fans should be aware that the final decision on postponement will be made by the league and the referee depending on the condition of the pitch at kick off. The Red Bulls have made our concerns about the weather known to the league, so please be safe in making your choice to attend or not.”
    So yes, the brunt of blame DOES go on MLS. But the Red Bulls aren’t innocent here. Putting the fans first, even while pissing off the league, would have been the right thing to do. But it’s so rare this organization does that.

  7. Anyone else still wondering why MLS doesn’t adopt the European calendar? Didn’t think so…

    And no way the game should have been played last night. Frozen pitch, frozen players, frozen ball. MLS made right decision, RBNY is the seeded team and deserves to play at home on a field that won’t be mistaken for Lake Superior in February.

  8. The 700 fans rearranged their lives to see a soccer game. If they played on a field covered with snow it wouldn’t be a soccer game. Backe is right playing the game would be a joke. If all you want is a result, just flip a coin or take a vote of those in attendance. But don’t call it soccer.

    BTW, the laws of the game give the final decision on whether a field is playable to the Center Ref, not to the TV networks, not to “league officials”, and certainly not to team management.

    • Tom – if you don’t think league officials had any say in the postponement of the game then you have had the wool pulled over your eyes. Did you see Nelson Rodriguez’s statement?…not once in there did he say the referees are the ones who made the call. MLS made the call, not the referees.

  9. On the bus home, I was told by a friend who had been at the field level with a press pass that the game officials felt that the field was playable, and were ready to go ahead with the game. What I don’t know was whether he heard that first hand from the officials, or second hand from a source whose reliability must be assessed.

    Certainly if this report proves to be accurate, it puts a different spin on the league’s decision to call the game.

  10. This was all Red Balls fault. They didnt have blowers, they didnt do the whole field, they didnt do it with any efficiency or synchronicity. They left areas to build up so it would look good on TV. They paid money for the stadium to waste electricity and pay employees for nothing. MLS could have changed venues if they needed wed. They could have changed times. But the VP is a liar. My Weather Channel App said snow storm, 35mph gusts in NYC, a girls was for the stadium at 50mph. The coach for Red Balls said online not 10 min after leaving the stadium HE postponed because the game would just be who was “luckier”. I get that. So I dont know which idiot made this decision: MLS, RBNY, a combination, or someone else, but that VP is a talking meat puppet if he thinks any of us that were at that game believe his nonsense of “no knowing”. If RBNY forfeit, then the game should have gone to United. I dont know what theyre saying, but this smacks of nonsense. The truth will reaveal itself. Mind you, all of this is from someone whos frustrated, yes, but not blind. This was jackassery on many levels, and someone should be fired.

  11. All of this could have been averted, if MLS and Red Bull had simply moved their home leg to Philly last Saturday.

    In typical MickeyMouseLeague fashion, RBNY get what they want, and DC get the shaft.

    This shenanigan actually works out n my favor, as I couldn’t have gone last Saturday, be it in DC, Jersey, or Philly, and I also couldn’t have been there tonight. Now, I’m able to travel from NC to DC to catch a bus and go.

    1 bus of United supporters will always trump a full-contingent of Jersey Scum.

    • “All of this could have been averted, if MLS and Red Bull had simply moved their home leg to Philly last Saturday.”

      yep. that was always the most common-sense (if not ideal) decision, but the league will move mountains (or at least try) to accomodate their big-ticket teams.

      • I have to say if MLS is engaged in some big conspiracy to help NYRB, it ain’t working because my team hasn’t won anything in its existance. Try looking at the bigger picture. There are bigger things in the world than preserving the miniscule home field advantage that comes with playing the second leg at home.

      • That really never made sense — not when it was so easy to switch the dates. It has nothing to do with big money or small money. Move a game to stadium that is another hour away from the team’s fans, very few of whom would have had a way to get there? A week earlier, no one anticipated the second storm. However, by Wednesday morning, it should have been abundantly clear it was a bad idea to try and go forward this.

        One decision has nothing to do with the other. The first decision was fine, Yesterday’s mickey mouse stuff was the opposite of fine.

  12. Nelson Rodriguez should be fired. His comments that this decision to attempt to play was in part for those affected by hurricane sandy is laughable to the point of being offensive. It is either a lie or incompetence worthy of dismissal. If anything, it is the most risky and disrespectful thing to do to hold a sporting event at the height of a nor’easter when the region’s infrastructure is still not back to normal. What a joke!

    There was every indication, even by noon, that playing this match could be risky. And given everything this region has gone through and the trouble fans and employees would have getting to the stadium, the league should have postponed the match. It is a lie that they didn’t have enough information. Red Bull was inundated with calls from fans who, themselves, seemed to know what the league did not… “Uhm, are they REALLY going to play this match tonight?”

    And for fans, the answer was to be “yes”. So thousands took a deep breath and went against warning from officials and weather stations that urged drivers to stay off roads. Why? Because they trusted in the league.

    Horrible. Someone needs to be fired. The fact that Sandy happened a week ago and this was a nor’easter was enough reason to postpone. By the morning, when snow began to fall, it should have been even more of a no- brainer. By early afternoon when officials warned people to stay off the road, this game should have been called for the safety and respect for fan’s time and money.

  13. I don’t know why it’s sad for fans at all. 700 DC supporters and the NY supporters clubs made it, but other fans could not. Frankly, I’m quite happy they postponed because now I can use my tickets for tonight’s match tomorrow and still go to the game. I got on the road to drive down from Westchester county at 5pm for a trip that usually would take maybe an hour and 15 minutes. By 7pm, I had barely traveled half-an-hours distance because of the poor conditions and the traffic.

    I’m confident that many more fans will be able to make it out to the match tomorrow night.

    • You don’t see why its sad? 700 people rearranged their lives to attend a game that RBNY had no intention of playing. That’s after the team and fans graciously surrendered homefield advantage to help hurricane stricken NY. We had to shuffle our lives and work to sell out a game 5 days earlier on a few days notice. All tifo was pushed to be rushed out w/in 24hrs of the match. We did it –to you’re welcome NY and MLS.

      We came to NY on short notice, taking off work, family commitments, etc to attend. We arrived to find an empty stadium with no grounds preparation, and dozens of stadium hands sheltering in the concourse. A couple dozen people only began lazily shoveling 30min before kickoff. Later as they walked over hour-old snowfall, green footprints were visible. DCU wanted to play, Ref Geiger wanted to play, NY didn’t. That’s the definition of a forfeit.

      MLS pushed to play this game to preserve the upcoming Sat NBC primetime broadcast. Hacke saw the 700+ D.C. away fans at 6pm, and again before kickoff, and knew he had zero homefield advantage. They let the grounds degenerate to excuse cancelling, in the hopes of retaining an advantage tomorrow… when it will be too short of notice for d.c. fans to attend again. Thjs was a front office dive. There was no good faith effort by NY to play this game, and 700 people rearranged their lives to travel for 10 hours for the insult. Tbat disingenuous manipulative play is penalized on the field. Why not when ghe front office does it. Oh, because NYRB are money darlings of the league leadership.

      • We had an f ing hurricane where people lost their lives and others lost their homes or everything. People are still without power. My heart bleeds for you that’s that you couldn’t get a bloody tifo together.

        MLS screwed the pooch on this. Nuff said. The humane thing to do would be to have canceled it ahead of time so that everyone in the region could make it and have ample time for arrangements.

      • Uh…do you even edit what you write. This is an MLS problem, not a Backe or RBNY problem. Backe was begging for this game to be postponed all day on TUESDAY.

        If you want to be upset, be upset at the league. That field was absolutely unplayable last night and it would have been a travesty to play the game.

        But thanks for the fake concern about the NY Metro area…

      • this. couldn’t believe they hadn’t even started clearing the field until a little before the game.

        nyrb didn’t want to play last night, and they got what they wanted.

      • DC fans have no class. I dont understand what “sacrifice” they have made since they are mooching off a tragedy.

        The region was just hit by a hurricane.They are estimating that the damages from the hurricane will be the second most devasting storm in postwar history. Yesterday, the region was hit again with another storm: 8 inches of snow which is causing additional problems to restore power, heat, gas, and mass transit in the area.

        Its disgusting that MLS would even consider a game under these conditions. Its disgusting that DC fans are complaining about their “sacrifice” when there are a lot of people suffering.

      • other people being worse off doesn’t preclude you from being upset at bad things happening to you. i mean, how disgusting is it that new yorkers are complaining about power outages and a few casualties when there is genocide in other countries?

        and most dcu fans aren’t complaining that they didn’t play last night, but that mls even considered it, and then didn’t make the decision until the fans were already there.

      • Bryan- Giants didnt play in the middle of a major storm and the mass transit system to met life stadium is in much better conditions then to RBNY.

        Nate – we are not playing a game where there is a genocide. We are talking abt the NY/NJ region that was hit by two major storms. Most of the mass transit connections that are available to go to harrison are not working. Folks will have to rely on there cars. if you watched the news there is a gas shortage in the region. Under these conditions, it does not make sense to have a soccer game when your own fans cant get to the stadium.

        Secondly, if you were to read many of the DC fan posts they are complaining that the game didnt happen.

      • um, the Giants game was on Sunday. The DC/NY game was going to be Saturday. I’m just sayin’.

        Out of curiosity, why is the metro around MetLife in much better shape? They seem pretty near each other. But I probably don’t know something you do.

      • “Oh, because NYRB are money darlings of the league leadership.”

        Except that the league hated Soler & the relationship has been frosty between the board of governors & NY for a while. So, yes, DC fans got screwed, but you sound like a Birther with your anti-NY conspiracies. Leave it out, Donald Trump, it was about a time slot. MLS had league officials helping clear the snow, and even if there was 100 people doing it, it would’ve been bad 5 mins later. There was too much snow, too fast.

        It sucks, DC was screwed, get over it. Like Dallas fans got over losing Adu. It’s not like DC’s never had a bone thrown it’s way, yo.

  14. Yes because no one has jobs and everyone can just take a bunch of days off. Get a clue. How can you possibly act like it’s some generous offer to give fans a bus and ticket in less than 24 hours? It’s total bs and it was very clear that Backe felt he would be at a disadvantage so pushed to cancel.

    • How is it “very clear that Backe felt he would be at a disadvantage”? How is it better for the Red Bulls to now play in what will be a very far from full capacity stadium, between it being midweek and on short notice?

      • Hey MM, try watching the _first leg_. Look how DC played the ball out of the back. It was 80% lofted longballs to Pajoy. They bypass midfield constantly. This is not the El Diablo DC team.

      • 1) dc plays better in sloppy consitions. See 1st dc/nyrb game of season.
        2) dc fans outnumbered ny fans. Few of the 700 will be able to return tom night

      • He said so. He said he didn’t want to play, that the match shouldn’t be played, that it would just be luck deciding who wins. Meanwhile, every DC player and Benny interviewed at least pretended to be raring to go. Bad optics. (Full credit to Tim Cahill by the way for the short sleeve attempt)

  15. You can’t blame NYRB for this, the only people to blame is MLS it was there decision to go ahead with the game and there decision to call the game off, i don’t know what forecast they were listing to but all the NYC new stations were calling for snow.

    • It might be MLS’ decision in the end, but an intelligent club would have recognized a CLEAR problem and pressed hard against the league.

      Red Bull looks just as bad as MLS right now. Very sad for both fan bases.

      • NYRB’s GM did ask for the league to cancel the game in advance. As far as ‘pressed hard’…difficult for anyone not there to know how hard he pressed. NY fans on the way out of the stadium:

        “Died for a timeslot,
        we almost died for a timeslot…”

        This fiasco was 100% about trying ‘grow’ the sport & make NBC money by putting the game on 100m TVs by having a Saturday 4pm slot. They were more concerned about that, than about the safety of their fans. True story.

    • I am not aware of anyone really blaming NYRB. This was a complete clusterf^@k, but the fault was clearly with MLS. By 2:00, if not sooner, it should have been abundantly clear that the conditions would be miserable and the game almost surely unplayable. Red Bulls fans didn’t bother coming. It was obvious to them there would be no game. So, the question remains why the league did this.

      The spin here ignores the real reason why the league wouldn’t give in to the obvious and do the responsible thing. TV time. At best, they might have been thinking about additional costs in postponing the game — but that is the typical corporate nonsense in focusing on their own expenses with no regard to what they’re doing to their customers. Thankfully, there are no reports of serious physical injuries to fans who made the trip, but this cost them money even if the buses from DC were free.

  16. Obviously people will say the start time should have been moved up. But what about the preparation to play in the snow? It was awful! I saw far too few personnel available to shovel the field. They knew it was supposed to snow, they should have had far more people to shovel, or even better, they should’ve had some sort of small ride-on mower with a plow they could quickly drive around the field. If they had these, they could’ve kept the lines clear easier and probably could’ve played. It looked like they grabbed 10 people from the crowd and gave them shovels. Not nearly prepared enough.

    • They’ve tried mechanized removal in the past, but it rips up the soft field too much. Red Bull should have said: “Anyone who arrives at the gate with a plastic shovel gets in free and gets to watch the game from field level.”

      Then, every once in a while during a corner or goal kick, have the whole armada shovel across the field.

      Of course, in liability land USA, this would never happen.

    • In fact we and DC FO have offered to do just that (get several dozen of us to work in shifts and clear that pitch off) but RB would have none of it. Instead they sent out dozen interns who were too busy flipping us off to shovel snow 😀

      This whole situation is yet another embarrassment for this mickey mouse league, and Rodriguez is just making it worse with his rambling. It’s amazing how many of such twits that are so out of touch with fans work for MLS HQ and FOs.

      Love United. Hate MLS.

  17. Spare me. The forecast was for a noreaster. I’ll say that again: NOREASTER. As soon as they knew a huge storm (on the heels of another huge storm) was scheduled to hit Wednesday night they should have changed the kickoff.

    The fact that coach Hans Backe (and even the fans!) thought this was a terrible idea shows just how poorly MLS and the Red Bulls in general are run.

    Just another horrible decision in a history of horrible decisions by this franchise. But hey, good thing they got rid of Erik Soler right? Clearly he was the problem….

    • Bad decision after bad decision….cancel the game at 9pm?? With ppl in the stands who made the trek out in the nor’easter and had been sitting there for an hour, athletes dressed in the locker room, all concession workers/security/delivery/police/fire/EMS/camera crews/media etc there and paid for the night? You’ve got to be sh!tt!ng me.  Red Bull has more to say about the capabilities of their stadium than the MLS does. Trust me, I helped build it. What a complete and total mismanaged fiasco that franchise is.  Watch Cooper sit tonight too. 

    • yeah man, you dont F around with people’s lives during inclement weather. we are talking about a national disaster that occurred last week (smh) and the lesson was not learned.

    • You are indeed absolutely correct. The irony is that MLS TV ratings are so dismal that it probably makes better sense to cater to fans that actually go to games.

      On a related note, RB better reward those of us that actually went. Like another $100 on the members card would be nice. One can hope.

      • More stupidity. Furthermore, the 2nd legs of the conference finals are already scheduled for Sunday Nov 8. The league might actually get lucky despite this stupid mistake, because if NY and Seattle advance, they will be hosting games that day, and the Giants and Seahawks are both on bye that week. I understand RB and NYG do not share a stadium, but people still support/attend both.

Leave a Comment