Olsj4088 Jeremy Olson for American Soccer Now
Snow day!

In Colorado, To the Victor Goes the Snowmen

In case you didn't know, it snowed in Denver last night. The victorious Americans were fine with the proceedings. Costa Rica's coach and players, however, were not exactly pleased.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
March 23, 2013
5:34 PM
DENVER—The dust may be clearing after last night’s United States-Costa Rica tussle, but the snow here isn’t.

The snowy and icy conditions only worsened after the match and snow continues to fall in Colorado’s capital city Saturday afternoon. That’s part of the reason officials were so keen to push through the poor conditions Friday and make sure the game was played. Conditions aren’t likely to clear until late tonight or early tomorrow.

Sunil Gulati, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, explained that while a recent FIFA rule change would’ve picked up the suspended match from where it left off, a suspension was far from an ideal situation. “That frankly wouldn’t have been to the advantage of either team since they both play on Tuesday,” he said in a postmatch news conference. “Obviously we’re worried about safety of players and being able to see the ball. The referee and the match commissioner made the decision that the game could continue, and I think it was the right decision.”

Costa Rica’s players see it a little differently.

“The match had to stop. The snow got up to our ankles, so we couldn’t play. It was very difficult at the end,” Keylor Navas, the Ticos’ keeper, told Al Dia. His teammate, Celso Borges, called the match ”vulgar” in media both traditional and social. Meanwhile, Alvaro Saborio speculated “in normal conditions they couldn’t hurt us.” Their manager was equally frustrated in the post match news conference, saying the referee clearly didn’t know the rules of the game or he would’ve called the match. Obviously the visitors had a bit more reason to be aggrieved and their frustrations were evident after the match. Still, even the victors admitted the conditions were far from ideal.

“First half, with the wind coming at us it was really difficult with the snow coming in our eyes. It was hard to just see,” center back Omar Gonzalez said. “Second half the snow got a lot thicker. It was really hard to see the ball when their backs and their keeper had it.”

The snow accumulating on the ground kept both teams from putting together much of anything and getting an early goal proved to be the difference for the Americans. As a layer of the fluffy stuff continued to accumulate in the second half, the game slowed down considerably with the chief strategy turning to lumping the ball forward and hoping something amazing happens.

“I think it was great that we got a goal before conditions got too terrible because after that no one was playing any more,” Clarence Goodson, who plays his club matches in Denmark, said. “You’re just trying to get the ball in the other team’s end and throw numbers forward as much as possible and try to catch them that way. But it was always going to be difficult to score a goal in the second half.”

Prior to the match, most players shrugged off any concern about the weather, but it was clear Friday was a unique match, especially in World Cup qualifying. The goalscorer, Dempsey, said after the match that he had been in a few matches in which there were stoppages for snow removal.

“We’re glad that the game was able to finish and we were able to get the three points, but you can understand their concerns because it was probably really frustrating,” Dempsey said. “They couldn’t play the style that they wanted to play because it’s difficult for any team to play tonight.”

But, as multiple players and coaches pointed out, both teams—and the sellout crowd—all had to deal with the same weather.

“Listen, both teams have to play in it,” Gonzalez said. “You have to find a way to deal with it regardless of the conditions. It’s hot out, it’s cold out, it’s snowy out, it’s like this you have to find a way to deal with the conditions, and like I said sometimes it’s not always pretty but the most important thing is we get three points.”

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