The Washington Post

MLS weathering early-season weather

MLS made it through the earliest start in league history last weekend without any major weather issues. D.C. United certainly wasn’t complaining about a 50-degree kickoff is typically stuffy Houston and Philadelphia offered 40 degrees and a breeze in riverfront Chester for an afternoon opener against Kansas City.

Will the good fortune continue for week 2? Yes and no.

The mid-week snow threat in Washington fizzled, leaving RFK Stadium’s field and parking lots open for business ahead of seasonable and dry conditions Saturday night against Real Salt Lake. Chicago is expecting temperature in the mid-40s with a good chance of rain for New England’s visit. And to avoid any problems, Toronto had scheduled it home opener for the indoor Rogers Centre instead of BMO Field. (As it turned out, TFC could have played outdoors: It’s going to be 41 degrees with partly sunny skies for an afternoon kickoff.)

The slush-storm did force United to cancel training Wednesday, but the club was back at it Thursday.

The problem lies in Denver, where snow is threatening to crash the Rapids’ home-opening party against Philadelphia. Break out the orange ball!

Soccer is so deeply ingrained in cold-weather European countries, fan turnout is not an issue. In MLS, which in many markets relies on casual spectators to meet attendance goals, weather can spoil the box office numbers and leave clusters of unoccupied seats in view of TV cameras.

Wisely, MLS did not schedule home matches right away for New York (March 16), New England (March 23) and Montreal (April 13 at Saputo Stadium after two matches inside Olympic Stadium).

Then again, we remember the last time the Red Bulls played in Harrison during a “mild” time of the year:

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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