This years MLS Cup may end up going down as the coldest MLS Soccer game ever played. I thought it would be nice to look at how the temperature could affect the game.
The Players on the pitch have it better off than both the players on the bench and the fans in the stadium. There are some things to look out for when playing in weather this cold, first; there tends to be a balance between head production and heat loss, so when the players are out there moving and producing heat, they will also lose more heat than their counterparts on the bench. Second; the cold weather inhibits the constriction of blood vessels, this acts to reduce the flow of blood and has an impact on both muscle strength and reaction time. Finally, there is an increased risk of injury when playing in cold weather, the only way to combat this is to warm up properly before playing, which I am sure both clubs will do just fine at.
The ball behaves differently under different conditions. This is most pronounced with the heat and cold. . The colder the temp, the colder the air inside the ball is and the colder the surface of the ball is. This causes the ball to become harder and more stiff and will not travel as far as a ball on a warm summer day. Ball technology has improved dramatically over the years, so this is not nearly as big a deal as when you are playing at home on Thanksgiving with an old leather football, but the players will notice that the ball does not travel as high or as far as it did earlier in the season.
This is really the only area that we should not have any problems with on Saturday, that is unless we get some snow. The sub-air system in Kansas City not only keeps the pitch green, but also keeps the ground from freezing. Peter Vermes has said that they will not be using the sprinklers before the game or at the half, so the grass should be dry.
The biggest impact of this weather will most likely be on the fans in the stadium. With temperatures in the low to mid 20′s I expect that most fans will stand and cheer the full 90 minutes first to try and motivate their club, but also to try and keep warm in the frigid cold that is expected. It might be more comfortable to watch this one from the couch, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.