PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 30 wildfires have ravaged parts of Oregon and southwest Washington and created air quality issues.
It’s also impacting soccer in the Rose City. The Portland Thorns' first home match of the year is on hold a little longer. Their game against OL Reign is rescheduled for Tuesday, September 15 at Providence Park at 7 p.m.
“The health and safety of the players and staff is paramount,” said Thorns head coach Mark Parsons. “We are training and preparing with health and safety in mind first, and today training was different. We were inside, we weren’t outside.”
The match kicks off the National Women’s Soccer League fall series for the Thorns. The game was originally scheduled to air nationally on CBS, but will now be streamed on Twitch.
Before the announcement was made, there was uncertainty within the team that a game would be played Saturday.
“At this point, I actually don’t know due to the air quality, but if there is a game, we are 100% ready and focused. These are just some of the things you have to deal with as an athlete,” said Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg.
“Hopefully we can get back on the field tomorrow,” said Thorns defender Emily Menges. “We don’t know about tomorrow, the weekend, the game, everything. We’re hoping this clears up, obviously for our sake, but for everyone’s safety and health.”
Their mindset was on playing the game and adapting to whatever happens.
“In Utah, it was the altitude. Here, right now, it’s these fires and air quality. So, regardless we need to prepare as if we are playing on Saturday and as of this point, we are,” said Klingenberg. “We can’t think any other way otherwise it will adversely affect us on the field. We need to trust in the league, trust in our doctors and our training staff that they’ll take into consideration our health and make sure we’re playing in appropriate conditions. All we can do as athletes is focus on getting out there and doing the things that we want to do and perform the way that we want to perform.”
The NWSL fall series features the league’s nine teams broken into three, three-team pods to minimize travel. Each team will play four matches over the next month. Portland follows up its opening match against OL Reign with a second home match versus Utah Royals FC on September 20.
Fans will not be allowed to attend matches in Portland.
Resources for those impacted by the wildfires or poor air quality:
If you have to evacuate, here is a Fire Evacuation Checklist from the Forest Service.
You can stay up to date with the latest wildfire locations and sizes with the OEM dashboard.