February 25, 2022

Honduras players forced off due to ‘extreme climate conditions’ in World Cup qualifier against U.S.

Two players for the Honduras national team were forced off at halftime in Wednesday’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to the U.S. due to “extreme climate conditions,” the federation said.

In total, three players — Luis Lopez, Romell Quioto and Diego Rodriguez — were substituted during the interval as the temperature at Minnesota’s Allianz Field stadium reportedly dropped to 1 F (-17 C) when the match kicked off, with a wind chill of -14 F (-25.5 C).

“Two players of the national team did not return to the second half of the qualifying game against the USA due to the extreme weather conditions prevailing in the stadium,” the Honduras football federation wrote on Twitter.

The U.S. has come in for criticism for moving the match to Minnesota, with Honduras head coach Hernan Dario Gomez calling it an “inconceivable” decision.

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“It’s a match that is not going to dictate many things to me,” Gomez said after the game. “It’s unusual, inconceivable that a powerful team in every sense of the word would bring you here to play a match to get a result.

“I have the boys in the dressing room in discomfort, there are some on IV drips. Football is not for suffering. Playing like this is no good.”

However, U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said that his players regularly have to contend with stifling conditions when they travel abroad to play World Cup qualifiers.

“When we go down to those countries, it’s 90 degrees and 90% dew point and it’s unbearable humidity and guys are getting dehydrated and cramping up and getting heat exhaustion, that’s the nature of our competition,” he said.

“When we schedule this game in this location, you have to go by average temperatures, daily average temperatures, and it was the best guess. We want to minimize travel. We knew we were going to be playing in cold weather in two of the games and we figured to do it in the third game as well, instead of switching climates.

“The cold spell came through and it’s something we can’t control but all we can do once that happens is try to mitigate the risk by having warm weather gear and going out there and competing and we did that.”

Berhalter added that the federation provided Honduras’ players and staff — and the officiating team — with warm weather gear “to make it a safe environment for them to play.”

The result was a much-needed win for the U.S. as it remains in the second automatic qualifying spot, extending its lead over Panama — which lost to Mexico — in the playoff place to four points.

Honduras remains bottom of the CONCACAF group with just three points.

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