Narrowing the field: NWSL game played on 58-yard wide pitch

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

A National Women's Soccer League game played on a narrow field on Saturday night drew criticism from U.S. national team star Carli Lloyd, among others.

The Western New York Flash moved their game against the Seattle Reign to Rochester's Frontier Field, a Triple-A baseball venue, because the Flash's regular stadium was hosting a music festival.

According to reporting by FourFourTwo,the Flash announced the field as 100 yards long by 58 yards wide.

Responding to a photo of the narrow pitch on Twitter, Lloyd called it "shocking and embarrassing." Fellow USWNT players Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan also expressed their incredulity on Twitter.

Rapinoe guessed at the dimensions and called the playing surface "unacceptable" -- a sentiment shared by Morgan.

NWSL and MLS regulations call for a field to be at least 70 yards wide, though FourFourTwo reported that the league granted an exemption for Saturday's game.

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush released a statement after Western New York's 3-2 win, explaining the situation and promising the league will do better in the future.

"The field dimensions were not up to our standards, but due to various factors, the league office made the decision to grant an exception for this evening's match," Plush said. "In retrospect, we made the wrong decision.

"As a professional league, we need to ensure that the integrity of the game is always respected both on and off the field. We did not do that tonight and we apologize to the NWSL players, coaches and fans.

"In the future, we will ensure that every NWSL match meets our standards."

If the Flash's announced measurement was accurate, that would leave just 7 yards on either side of the 18-yard box.

The Flash scored two goals in the first halffrom long throw-ins along the side of the box.

Seattle midfielder Jess Fishlock expressed her disappointment after her team's loss.

"I love playing in this league. I do. But tonight was embarrassing & insulting to every single player in this league. It has to be better," she wrote in a series of tweets.

"It's not about winning or losing ... It's about Respect. Tonight there was [none and] that's a shame from such a good League."