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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.

From US Soccer Facebook stream

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.

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  1. The original Tom

    March 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I favor a summer schedule, but not because of this game. You’re more likely to get good weather at the end of February or early March than late March.

    I was there. It was a crazy night.


    March 24, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Yes I think what you saw in Denver will be the best example of way MLS must be a spring to fall league. I myself will be heading out to the Chicago Fire game today where 2 to 4 inches of snow is predicted. Now that will really encourage people to come out to Toyota Park?

    Also the league should adjust its schedule to keep the cold weather cities from playing at home until April. There are enough cities in the league that have warm or moderate weather to work that out. A mid-March start date should be the earliest in any event.

  3. gbewing

    March 23, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    memo to Sepp Blatter this is why we play a different calender

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