United States clash had ball like a ‘concrete block’

Honduras midfielder Devron Garcia has said he felt like he was “hitting a concrete block” whenever he struck the ball in Wednesday’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to the US men’s national team due to the sub-zero conditions the game was played in.

The temperature reading at kick-off at the Allianz Field in Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul, was five degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius), the coldest for any match in USMNT history.

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The wind chill factor made it feel colder.

“During the game, we were at -20 degrees C but the feeling was of -30 degrees C because of the wind,” Garcia said. “It’s against the players’ health to play in those conditions. Football is to enjoy it and not to suffer.

“When I struck the ball it felt like I was a hitting a concrete block.”

Two Honduras players suffered from adverse effects from the cold and did not return to the pitch after the interval.

“Our starting goalkeeper [Luis Lopez] suffered hypothermia,” Garcia said. “Thankfully, it was just a scare.”

Garcia, on the books of Honduran side Real Espana, was less than pleased to enter the field in the second half.

“When I had to go on the pitch it was horrible,” he said. “I was just more focused on when the game would be over as were my teammates and the USA players. They suffered the same as we did.

“I had long leggings on, two long-sleeve shirts, gloves and the jersey but it didn’t serve for much. My ears are hurting today.

“The referee told us he wanted the game to end as you could not even talk.”

Honduras coach Hernan Dario Gomez also spoke of the conditions after arriving in Tegucigalpa on Thursday and said: “When I arrived in the locker room at half-time, I wanted the game to end because I saw my players in bad condition, and you start to think what’s the point…you shouldn’t have to suffer in this manner in football. I had players needing treatment. It’s not normal.”

USA coach Gregg Berhalter said after the 3-0 win over Honduras that extreme conditions are “the nature of our [CONCACAF] competition.”

“We provided Honduras, their staff and the referees with warm weather gear, trying to make it a safe environment for them to play in,” he said.

“When we go down to those countries, it’s 90 degrees [Fahrenheit]it’s unbearable humidity and guys are dehydrating and cramping up, getting heat exhaustion, that’s the nature of our competition.

“When we scheduled this game in this location… we wanted to minimize travel, we knew we were going to play in cold weather in two [against Salvador and at Canada] or the [previous] games and we figured to do it in the third game instead of switching climate.

“A cold spell came through and it’s something we can’t control but all we could do is mitigate the risk by having warm-weather gear and going out there and competing, and we did that.”

The result kept the US in second place of CONCACAF’s octagonal round of qualifying and trail Canada by four points.

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