FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It wasn’t quite the blizzard conditions the national teams of the United States and Costa Rica dealt with last night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, but heavy wind made playing attractive soccer a futile effort on Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium as the New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City played to a rugged 0-0 draw.
Both sides struggled with the conditions, which made passing nearly impossible and wreaked havoc on any balls played through the air. Even passes on the ground were at the mercy of the wind and at one point Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen struggled to take a free kick when he couldn’t get the ball to sit still on the turf.
“It was just that type of game,” said forward Chad Barrett, who made his first start with the Revolution while Jerry Bengtson is away on international duty. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight, especially with the wind. I think I’ve played in a game like that maybe one other time in my career. It was like 25 mile-an-hour winds. It’s just very tough to play in that.”
Typically teams can adjust to windy conditions by keeping the ball on the ground, but even that didn’t seem to help matters on Saturday. According to Scott Caldwell, low passes were just as susceptible to the wind, and with the prospect of every wayward pass creating a turnover, getting the ball in the air was actually a safer option.
“You can try on the ground – that’s what I’d say is the best bet – but with the way the winds were swirling, even the ball on the ground was moving,” Caldwell said. “That was kind of the dangerous ball today. We had to stay away from it sometimes.”
Complicating matters on the offensive end was the fact that both sides used the wind to their advantage defensively. Knowing that every pass was unpredictable, both teams used high pressure tactics to disrupt the flow and force quick decisions.
The result was a back-and-forth affair in which both teams completed less than 60 percent of their passes.
“Everybody puts the other team under pressure as much as they can,” said Barrett. “We played high pressure defense, Kansas City played high pressure defense and you kind of got an ugly football game. Hopefully when the weather gets nicer and the wind settles down a little bit more, we can play a little bit better soccer.”