Two players for Honduras' men's national soccer team were reportedly treated for hypothermia on Wednesday during a 3-0 World Cup qualifier loss against the U.S.
Soccer writer Grant Wahl and CBS Sports report that two Honduran players — keeper Luis "Buba" López and forward Romell Quioto — were substituted out at halftime of the match and treated for hypothermia symptoms.
Wednesday's game, hosted by U.S. Soccer, was held at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The match was played outdoors amid a brutal cold snap in the upper Midwest — MLS' website reports that the air temperature at the stadium was just 5 degrees at kickoff.
That marked the coldest game-time kickoff ever for a USMNT match.
Referees allowed goalkeepers to wear strap-on hand warmers, and USMNT also provided the Honduran team with additional cold-weather gear. But the cold weather still sent two of its players off early.
According to one Honduran journalist, López was still being treated in the locker room after the game. Quioto's case of hypothermia was reportedly less severe.
USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter defended the decision to play the cold-weather match Wednesday and indicated that the climate and lack of travel gave his club an advantage over their Central American opponent.
"When we scheduled this game in this location, you have to go by average temperatures, daily average temperature, and it was the best guess. We wanted to minimize travel," Berhalter said. "We knew we were going to be playing in cold weather in two of the games and we figured to do it in the third game as well instead of switching climates. A cold spell came through and it's something we can't control. But all we can do once that happens is try to mitigate the risk by having warm weather gear and going out there and competing, and we did that."
The win put the USMNT in an excellent position to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2014. They're in second place in their qualifying group with three matches remaining, putting them on track for an automatic bid.
However, fans and media members alike criticized the U.S. for holding an early February World Cup qualifier in Minnesota, saying the match put the players' safety in jeopardy.
It’s a farce for US Soccer to have chosen to play the World Cup qualifier tonight against Honduras in temperates around -15C in Minnesota - putting players health at risk when the US isn’t lacking warmer places to play. Needed FIFA intervention on welfare https://t.co/jrwrvrb370— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) February 2, 2022
Cancel the match. Move it to one of the 50 warm options the US has. The USSF has done absolutely everything it can to destroy the #USMNT's World Cup hopes coming off a disastrous last cycle. Unfathomably inept. https://t.co/cAI56wOo3a— Stephen Meyer (@StephenMeyerRDC) February 2, 2022