HARRISON, N.J. -- Let's just say Hans Backe isn't a big fan of playing soccer in the snow.
The Red Bulls manager was quick to point out that Major League Soccer should have been more aggressive in its decision to postpone Wednesday night's playoff match between New York and D.C. United. Backe pointed out that the Nor'easter forecast heading into the evening was well-known and the league should have made its decision hours before the match as opposed to an hour after the scheduled start time.
"You have to ask them. They said it was going to peak around 8 to 10 p.m., so it wasn't a surprise. In my opinion, this was a very easy decision to postpone the game," Backe stated. "You can't see the lines, it's not football playing in these conditions. You risk the health of the players picking up injuries. It's a different sport."
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Major League Soccer Vice President Nelson Rodriguez explained that the league's decision wasn't easy. According to Rodriguez, the league consulted with several meteorologists and from their result expected gutsy winds and rain. He stated that MLS didn't expect the heavy amount of snowfall that ultimately forced the game to be moved to Thursday.
Still, the league's indecision until 9 p.m. was costly to many fans. Over 700 fans traveled to Harrison from the D.C. area and a few hundred came from the New York/New Jersey area. While MLS might have a few disappointed fans on its hands, Backe is happy that the league made the right decision in his opinion.
The 60-year-old claims that the product on the field would have been a nightmare if played.
"Yeah. in a way, this becomes a joke," Backe said. "It becomes all about luck. Some individual mistakes or anything that can decide the game and this is a semifinal, it has to be more serious."
Still, not everyone shared Backe's view. United head coach Ben Olsen criticized the league's decision to push the match until Thursday.
"Have you seen the field? [The field] looks fine to me." said Olsen. "I didn't get [an explanation], I just heard the game was cancelled. I am baffled that we can't play this game."
Olsen then admitted that he was concerned about the mindset of his current players, who he felt were motivated to beat the conditions and defeat their opponents.
"I'm upset because I got some that I knew by the look in their eyes that they were ready to go today...I thought we had a good chance today," he said.
Still, Olsen insists that he won't allow his players to use the delayed game as an excuse to play poorly in the rescheduled match.
"We have to respond, we'll get some sleep and we'll get back and do it again tomorrow," he said.
Backe, on the other hand, thinks that many of the players wouldn't have been mentally in the game due to wanting to avoid injuries.
"It changes in a positive way probably. It's quite hard when you wait 45 minutes doing the warm up and you can see that it's almost impossible to play. Mentally [it's tough], the mindset you lose your [edge],"he said.
"You could have played for 15 minutes before you would have to stop the game, clear the pitch."
New York striker Kenny Cooper agreed with his head coach.
"I'm always ready to play but in the end of the day, you want to make sure that the fans can make it out here and get back home safe. That the players are safe out there," Cooper told Goal.com.
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