Chilly Ohio Qualifier Nears “High Risk” For USSF Guidelines | Sports News

By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Journalist

A kickoff temperature of around 25 degrees is forecast for the United States’ World Cup qualifier against El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio on January 27, with the wind chill index approaching what the U.S. Soccer Federation health guidelines call it “high risk of cold.” related disease. »

Walker Zimmerman sees the winter weather as a great opportunity for him and his American teammates. He remembers March 2013 when he saw the infamous Snow Clasico on TV, a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a blizzard in Commerce City, Colorado.

“I even spoke to my wife during the break,” the 28-year-old defender said on Wednesday. “I was like, you know what? I want it to be freezing. I want it to be cold. I want snow. I want to be a part of something so iconic that I’ve seen and really remember growing up. And that’s exciting for me. So I think guys are ready to embrace it, embrace the cold. And it will also be a very good environment for us on the fan side.

AccuWeather forecasts the temperature at 7 p.m. in Columbus next Thursday to be 24 to 26 degrees with westerly winds 4 to 14 mph and a 40% chance of flurries. The forecast for the Jan. 30 qualifier against Canada in Hamilton, Ont., calls for temperatures of 22-24 and winds of 5-10 mph for the 3 p.m. start, with a 10 percent chance of snow showers.

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The forecast for the Feb. 2 qualifier against Honduras in St. Paul, Minnesota, which begins at 6:30 p.m. CST, is 18-20 degrees, winds 7-14 mph and a 30% chance of showers of snow.

“The national team coaching staff are doing a wonderful job, and we have every confidence in them to prepare us,” winger Paul Arriola said after training in Phoenix, where the high temperature on Wednesday was 70. Obviously we have our duties as professional players and national team players to be as prepared as possible in all conditions I’ve done that before and I think most players on this team do. have done, and I think this is an opportunity for us.

USA coach Gregg Berhalter, who plans to announce his roster on Saturday, expects an advantage on the pitch.

“If it’s tough for us, and we have guys playing in Europe in cold weather,” he said, “what’s it going to be for Honduras, who come from Honduras in midweek, coming in from 85, 90 degree temps?”

Under Recognize to Recover, announced by the USSF in December 2015 as a “comprehensive player health and safety program,” a forecast-like windchill temperature index includes a “recommended action” to “consider modifying the activity to limit exposure and allow more frequent opportunities to warm up.

A temperature of 25 degrees with a 5 mph wind produces a wind chill of 19, which is orange on the USSF index and called “moderate risk of cold-related illness”. The USSF recommends “providing additional clothing, covering as much exposed skin as possible, and providing opportunities and facilities for warming up.”

If the wind increases to 10 mph and the wind chill drops to 15, the index would be in the red zone, calling for modified activity.

A drop to 15 degrees and an increase in wind to 10 mph would shift the alert level to black, which is called “extreme conditions”. The recommendation for this level is “cancel or attempt to move indoor activities”.

The federations choose the home qualifying sites. Asked about qualifying for the World Cup in September, Nicholas Noble, spokesman for the regional governing body of the North and Central America and Caribbean Football Association, replied: “CONCACAF does not manage or does not run these matches, FIFA does, together with the individual federations.”

FIFA spokesman Bryan Swanson did not respond to an email seeking comment.

“Our event staff and our coaching staff worked hand-in-hand on venue selection,” said USSF CEO Will Wilson. “Obviously the upcoming sites, we’re comfortable with their mitigation processes.”

The fields at Columbus and St. Paul are heated, and the USSF said it is confident players will be protected from the elements. The Tim Hortons pitch in Hamilton is artificial turf.

Dr. George Chiampas, USSF chief medical officer and FIFA medical committee member, said cold is easier to acclimatize than heat and humidity. Mitigation will include heated benches and hand warmers.

Midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who hails from California and moved from LA Galaxy to New England last month, believes qualifying “will help me get used to it”.

Preparing for the Major League Soccer playoffs with the Revolution in November was beneficial for goalkeeper Matt Turner, who started the first five U.S. playoffs.

“Understand that mentality and what it takes to be successful in those times,” he said. “So for me, it’s accepting the cold. It allows me to stay focused on the moments when I’m called into action and have fun with it. I mean, it’s America. It is beauty. We could play 90 degrees and we can play zero degrees at the same time of year. It’s a pretty cool thing.”

NOTES: The USSF said the final home qualifier, against Panama on March 27, will be in Orlando, Florida.

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