It was an extraordinary night—one that will surely go down in American sporting folklore.
Despite blizzard-like conditions in Denver, the World Cup qualifier between the United States and Costa Rica went ahead, and even though the conditions worsened as the match wore on, both sides were adamant that the full 90 minutes be played on Friday rather than delayed into the weekend.
More snow—and even colder weather—was expected for Saturday, so when the match commissioner temporarily halted play in the 54th minute, USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann and his Costa Rican counterpart Jorge Luis Pinto, along with players from each team, implored referee Joel Aguilar that the game go on.
He agreed, and after a stoppage of about three minutes, play resumed at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
As a football match, the play was hardly compelling. Rather, it was the uniqueness of the evening that captivated both the fans in the stands and those watching on television. No doubt many recalled similar nights from their childhood, staying out late after dinner to play football, hockey or whatever sport—the weather being merely an unhelpful backdrop you could choose either to play through or succumb to.
On Friday both the United States and Costa Rica chose to play through it, and they were helped along the way by grounds staff that kept the lines as clear as possible during stoppages.
The three points taken by the United States could prove vital, and if they happen to sneak into the World Cup following the Hexagonal, then it just might be Clint Dempsey’s goal, scored in an early-spring blizzard that got them to rather warmer climes.
All in all, an important three points for the United States—taken on a bizarre, albeit memorable, night in Colorado.