March 22nd: A Memory That Will Persist
In a different year, a different city, a different era, a 1-0 United States Men’s National Team home victory over Costa Rica may have been a ho-hum, run-of-the-mill result ground out in front of a sellout crowd.
But this was Denver, Colorado. It was 2013, and that year’s month of March was particularly intense as far as winter storms go. And it was an era of US Soccer that was proving to be particularly troublesome to the team and its supporters.
What transpired was a scene that should be burned into the minds of American soccer fans. One could argue the match should have been postponed before it even started. But you have to wonder if both parties involved knew it favored them both for the match to carry out on the evening of March 22nd.
- For the United States, between a disappointing road loss to Honduras, a multitude of injuries, and the public airing of personal gripes from 11 anonymous players on the team, the best way to quell the growing discontent was to get it out of the way. It was going to go down on Friday night, one way or the other.
- And as far as Costa Rica was concerned, what better time to face a better team than when turmoil is raging? The US had crumbled on the road with leads recently, and while they were at home they were still fielding second or third choice players (such as Demarcus Beasley at left back). All of the negativity that had embroiled the Americans made this a ripe opportunity to prey upon their vulnerability.
And so the whistle blew, and it snowed. And snowed. And snowed some more. The grounds crew grabbed their shovels and cleared the lines, and the accumulation quickly returned. Their effort on the night was remarkable, trying to facilitate the completion of the match. Jermaine Jones’ looked more like an old man with the snowflakes dusting his dark hair. The fans on hand were reveling in this stadium turned winter wonderland.
As for the players, they simply gutted it out. They went to ground in shorts and short sleeves, unfazed by the chilly powder. When the Match Commissioner had determined that enough was enough, the players converged on referee Joel Aguilar and convinced him to play out the remaining 35 minutes.
The scoresheet shows a 16th minute goal from Clint Dempsey and a few yellow cards. But that fails to paint the true picture. The tapestry of red, white, and blue – with a great bit more white than usual – leaves an indelible image of a defining moment in U.S. Soccer history. On the surface it was a pedestrian 1-0 victory over a CONCACAF Hexagonal rival; but those who held out for the final result were treated to a match to remember.