As the old children’s rhyme goes: “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day,” but May 21 turned out to be the most chaotic day in the weather department thus far in the 2022 Major League Soccer season.
Lightning Disrupts Three of Four Matches in MLS on May 21
The schedule for the afternoon and evening of May 21 was to feature a light day of action on the pitch in MLS, with only four matches due to be played, but three of the four games had one common annoyance that held them up: Thunderstorms.
The schedule for the day was supposed to kick off at 3:50 pm ET in Columbus, where Lower.com Field played host to a nationally-televised affair between the Columbus Crew SC and Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) in the Univision Deportes broadcast. But less than one hour prior to the scheduled kickoff time, Mother Nature intervened.
Subsequent to the Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC lightning delay, the later match between FC Cincinnati and New England Revolution and the contest between Nashville SC and Atlanta United also encountered lightning delays on Saturday night.
Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC Enters Weather Delay
Initially, the lightning delay was slated to last around 40 minutes, but MLS protocol for such a situation dictates that any time that lightning is detected near the match’s host stadium, activities have to be suspended for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Subsequent lightning strikes near the area of Lower.com Field pushed the starting time of Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC back further, to the point that team warm-ups on the pitch were slated to begin at 6 pm ET.
The teams eventually returned to the field for warm-ups and a rescheduled kickoff time was set for 6:39 pm ET at Lower.com Field, nearly three hours after the game’s originally-scheduled start time.
Match Starts, Then is Suspended Again
Upon kicking off, Columbus Crew SC and LAFC could only play three scoreless minutes of action on the pitch.
As the match reached its fourth minute of play, more lightning was detected in the vicinity of the stadium, causing the contest to go into a second weather delay.
This weather delay did not last nearly as long as the suspension to begin the day, as the second stoppage only clocked in at 70 minutes in length, a far cry from the two hours and 47 minutes that halted the opening kickoff.
The match eventually continued uninterrupted, with LAFC shutting out the Crew, 2-0, ending nearly six hours after the game was supposed to have begun.
Due to the weather delay, the soccer doubleheader at Lower.com Field that was scheduled to take place on Saturday could not be held.
Columbus Crew 2 Match at Lower.com Field Postponed to Noon Kickoff May 22
Initially, the Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC match on Saturday afternoon was slated to have been followed by a match between Columbus Crew 2, the MLS team’s MLS Next Pro affiliate, and Toronto FC II at Lower.com Field.
Kickoff time for the match was initially slated for 7 pm ET, more than an hour after the Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC match was to have ended, but due to the storms, this match was ultimately postponed on the evening and was rescheduled for a 12 noon ET kickoff on May 22.
Admission for the rescheduled MLS Next Pro match was free of charge.
Still, one question remains in the aftermath of the marathon day between Columbus Crew SC and LAFC in Ohio’s capital city:
Why Was This Match Played To Begin With?
Under usual circumstances, if inclement weather conditions make it impractical to safely contest an MLS match on the originally-scheduled day or night, league policy dictates that the game is to be rescheduled for the next day.
In this case, however, a makeup date of May 22 was a borderline untenable situation for LAFC.
As it would have stood had the Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC contest been postponed on May 21, this is how the upcoming schedule would have looked for the visiting team.
- May 22: at Columbus Crew SC (rescheduled from May 21 due to lightning.)
- May 25: Lamar Hunt US Open Cup: vs. LA Galaxy.
- May 28: vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Playing three games in less than a week is less than ideal for LAFC, so it’s easy to see why every effort was made to hold the match to completion on its scheduled date.
Furthermore, Lower.com Field has an 11 pm ET curfew for in-stadium activities and had the inclement weather persisted beyond 9 pm ET, the match would not have resumed until the next day.
May 22 Reschedule Discussed
This, however, isn’t to say that a May 22 rescheduling of the Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC match wasn’t considered.
Representatives for both Columbus Crew SC and LAFC were discussing the possibility of a 1 pm ET resumption of the May 21 match on May 22 in the event that a continued threat of unsafe weather prevented the completion of the contest.
As the tweet pointed out, LAFC’s traveling party would have been unable to return to California until the evening of May 22 in a best-case scenario.
At the core, the prolonged lightning delays in the Columbus Crew SC vs. LAFC match at Lower.com Field made for a long afternoon and evening for supporters who attended, watched, and listened to the game.
Sitting around in a weather delay in any outdoor sporting event, not just a soccer match, is by no means a day at the picnic.
The longer the delay goes on, the more likely it is that the fans who entered the stadium before the scheduled starting time of the contest will leave the stadium before it ends.
With a combined weather delay of close to four hours, it becomes almost understandable why the attendance inside Lower.com Field dropped precipitously as the match resumed after the second lightning delay.
Any fan can leave the game to go home because of a lengthy weather delay, but it takes a true fan to stay in the stadium through two lightning delays and see the match out to its final score.
Although the end result was not what Columbus Crew SC fans wanted, the few fans who remained at Lower.com Field throughout the entirety of the day on May 21 deserve a hearty round of applause.
To the fans who left the stadium during the weather delay, may you have better luck next time.
Main Picture Credits: Embed from Getty Images