MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The heat is making it challenging for players at one of the largest soccer tournaments in the world in Blaine over the weekend. The 35th annual Target USA Cup battled through the hottest day of the tournament so far on Sunday.
The tournament is hosting 1,152 teams from 22 states and 19 countries at the National Sports Center. Organizers raised a “yellow flag” on Sunday around 12:30 p.m. for the first time during this year’s tournament, which warns of dangerous heat and humidity. Steve Olson, the Chief Operating Officer of National Sports Center, says the yellow flag means that referees will reduce playing time, extend half time and add mandatory water breaks.
Olson says they’ve dealt with one heat-related medical incident so far this weekend, “but the kids now are on game three or game four and the more games you play, the higher incidents there is of that,” he said.
Olson says the turf fields are 10 to 15 degrees hotter than regular grass fields, so they placed cool mister fans on the turf fields for players to use.
Nikki Palmer is a coach for the Winnipeg Bonivital Soccer Club, which is competing in the USA Cup this weekend. She says multiple games in the heat is grueling for her players, but they came prepared.
“Lots of substitutions, we actually brought a cooler full of face cloths with ice, so every break that they get they’re putting that on their necks and their faces,” said Palmer.
The tournament continues from Tuesday, July 16 to Saturday, July 20.