To put it mildly, the Western NY Flash and Seattle Reign game Saturday night was a disaster. Rather than recap what everyone has already read about on Twitter, ESPN FC or Fox Sports, here is the rundown of events from Seattle's head mastermind Laura Harvey:
Just want to be clear around the facts of tonight. pic.twitter.com/lTvFdVZ0LD— Laura Harvey (@LH1505) July 10, 2016
Additionally, Harvey stated in a passionate interview that Western New York refused to take injured goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer to the hospital, which is a concern to say the least, and caused magicJack flashbacks for many social media users apparently. The NWSL has said they will investigate the events (so likely more on that later). However, with the international news such as BBC picking up the story, the entire fiasco leaves a rather large black mark on the NWSL's image.
The NWSL has had numerous of failed international signings, the most recent being New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler's extremely short tenure with Sky Blue. While the Portland Thorns landed Spain's Vero Boquette in 2014 and more recently France's Amandine Henry, and Seattle has the likes of Wale's Jess Fishlock, Scotland's Kim Little and Japan's Nahomi Kawasumi, it is widely known very few teams have the recruitment power of these two soccer powerhouses.
For teams such as Boston or Sky Blue, and even Houston who had its own failed signing in Ireland's Stephanie Roche, it should very concerning that the micro-pitch disaster was not only viewed, but publicly commented on by numerous international stars.
England's Sio Chamberlain who currently plays for Liverpool Ladies was one of the nicer tweets:
While former Western New York Flash player and New Zealand National Team member Emma Kete was a bit more critical of her former team. According to her social media, Kete seems to spend most of her time on the West Coast and could potentially be a future signing for a NWSL team.
Is it an optical illusion or is it genuinely a ridiculously tiny pitch im watching The flash and Reign on right now. I can't #WNYvSEA— emma kete (@EmmaKete19) July 9, 2016
Portland goalkeeper coach and former player Nadine Angerer seemed to be in a state of amusement and horror:
Thought it's a fake but it's real seriously? https://t.co/hZsHAk2CkI— Nadine Angerer (@NAngerer) July 9, 2016
Goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer, who plays for Chelsea Ladies, blasted the league:
Can't believe they allowed a game to be played on a pitch like this may aswell got the 7 a side goals out too pic.twitter.com/fEnNSynexo— rebecca spencer (@beckyspencer2) July 10, 2016
@TwinkyJazz apparently there normal pitch wasn't available so they changed venue just worrying that the league allowed it to go ahead— rebecca spencer (@beckyspencer2) July 10, 2016
@angrygav ridiculous,I just don't get at what point they thought playing on that pitch was acceptable,A throw on would go back post easy— rebecca spencer (@beckyspencer2) July 10, 2016
Current and former American and Canadian NWSL players chimed in as well:
Disgraceful https://t.co/J2aNuzFC4t— rhian wilkinson (@rhirhi8) July 10, 2016
This is shocking, disrespectful & such a shame that we as professional players, are expected to play on this surface pic.twitter.com/5uLx36WHm6— Ali Krieger (@alikrieger) July 10, 2016
Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) July 10, 2016
Kaylyn Kyle (@KaylynKyle) July 10, 2016
Amidst the low wages and seemingly lackluster living conditions, this latest disaster does little to help court international signings to NWSL teams. For the league to last, these signings are important. Believe it or not, if marketed, fans will travel to see non-USWNT international stars, and love them or hate them, Portland and Seattle cannot carry the entire league by themselves. International signings from countries such as England, Wales, Scotland, and even Japan- teams that are quality but cannot or did not qualify for international tournaments and will be with the team the entire season- are vital to the success of the NWSL.
Black marks such as shoddy pitches certainly will not help the case of recruiting these players.