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SBI Flashback (2013): Dempsey winner caps strong team effort as USMNT tops Costa Rica in snow storm

(The SnowClasico is a game that will go down in U.S. Men’s National Team history for the spectacle and significance of the World Cup qualifying win over Costa Rica on this date in 2013.

It was a match that helped spark the USMNT’s World Cup  qualifying campaign, and a match that left Costa Ricans forever upset at what transpired on that date.

U.S. Soccer is re-airing the match on USSoccer.com, YouTube and Facebook at 6pm ET on Sunday to commemorate the seven-year anniversary of the memorable match.

Here is a look back at that match, courtesy of SBI’s match report from that snowy night in Colorado:)

By IVES GALARCEP

COMMERCE CITY, Colorado — The snow started falling in the afternoon, but few could have imagined the sort of blizzard-like conditions that would develop and help make Friday night’s World Cup qualifier at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park a match for the ages.

Playing on a snow-blanketed field, the U.S. Men’s National Team turned in a strong group performance in conditions most players admitted were some of the worst they had ever played in. The heavy snow didn’t stop the U.S. from putting passes together, and defending well and turning in the kind of complete effort they needed after their forgettable showing against Honduras last month.

Clint Dempsey once again stepped up to deliver a goal when the U.S. needed it the most, finishing off a 16th-minute strike that held up as the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica that helped catapult the Americans from last place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying to second place. An ideal position heading into Tuesday’s vital clash against Mexico at Estadio Azteca.

The snow didn’t stop the U.S. from controlling much of the play in the first place. The snow-covered field made it easier for the Americans to pass the ball and they combined passes better than they had in recent memory. They broke through in the 16th minute when Dempsey took a ball deflected off Costa Rica defender Roy Miller and buried it for the early lead.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and the U.S. defense made that lead stand up on a night when they were able to deal with a Costa Rica side that never quite adapted to the snow-covered field. Guzan made five saves and dealt with every threat that came his way. U.S. centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson were stout in the air, clearing away most aerial threats.

On a night when so many players stepped up, veteran DaMarcus Beasley was a popular pick as Man of the Match. Deployed in the unfamiliar role of left back, a spot he hadn’t started at for the U.S. since an awful showing there against Costa Rica in 2009 World Cup qualifying, Beasley was outstanding all night. He broke up countless plays and covered the entire left side of the field, helping keep Costa Rican star Bryan Ruiz quiet and limiting Costa Rica’s attacking options.

The match looked like it might be halted early in the second half, as several inches of snow collected on the field, but when the referee stopped the match in the 56th minutes, he did so in order to allow field crews to clear the end lines, sidelines and penalty area lines of snow.

The delay led to the packed house at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to start chanting “Let Them Play” as players from both teams urged the referee to let the match continue. Referee Joel Aguilar eventually restarted play.

Costa Rica pressed hard for an equalizer, throwing as many as five players into the attack, but their close chances all went begging, and none seriously tested Guzan.

After the match, Costa Rican head coach Jorge Luis Pinto was irate at the playing conditions and called it a travesty that the match was allowed to continue. Most of Costa Rica’s players echoed those sentiments, with many saying the match should have been postponed early on.

“What is there to say? We know that under normal conditions they don’t beat us,” said Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio.

“The game should have been suspended from the 15th minute,” Costa Rican star Bryan Ruiz said. “It was a joke. I’ve never played in those kind of conditions.”

The U.S. now sit in second place in the Hexagonal standings with three points, and will travel to Mexico City on Sunday ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. The match will be vital for a Mexico side sitting on just two points from two matches (Mexico tied Honduras, 2-2, in San Pedro Sula on Friday).

“We’ve got to get our points at home and we’ve got to make sure on the road we get some points,” Klinsmann said after Friday’s match. “We’re going to start with that Tuesday night at Azteca Stadium.

“We have, obviously, a lot of respect for Mexico. That respect is always there, because it’s a very big soccer nation. We went there last August and came back with a win and that’s what we’re trying to do on Tuesday. But it was crucial to start this doubleheader with three points.”

Comments

  1. One other thought, would any of you truly have preferred to have had Timothy Chandler at right back last night over Geoff Cameron, who, although a couple of passing errors, played like a man possessed and left part of himself on the snowy field. And before any of you start screaming and attacking me, has nothing to do with Chandler being born in Germany but only with him not having even half the heart and desire to play for the shirt and give a million percent like Geoff Cameron has–and actually, all the other guys on the field last night. Those are the guys I want on the team fighting for points.

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  2. On to Mexico City. I smell a win.

    P.S. Whatever happens between now and WC 2014, DeMarcus Beasley damn well better get his 100th cap as a starter at left wing at home with the chance to be honored by USMNT fans. After taking a hard knock in the head that could have had him out cold, he played the rest of the game out-of-his-preferred position in one of the gutsiest excellent performances I have ever witnessed. Legendary.

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  3. Amazing how quick attitudes can change.

    A result is a result and in conditions like that anything can happen, so there’s no reason to complain. However, since the conditions were so adverse we can’t really use the game to judge the progress of the team.

    Like us, Costa Rica had to abandon their gameplan and essentially just “go out and play.” There’s not much coordination of movement you can do when the path of the ball is so unpredictable.

    I still saw some causes for concern. Why did we struggle so mightily to keep possession in the final 30 minutes? It seemed like we were afraid of the ball and just kept booting it upfield afer one- and two-pass movements, occasionally picking up the ball in the attacking third only to play it back and lose it again. Hopefully, we see better on Tuesday.

    Reply
    • “Why did we struggle so mightily to keep possession in the final 30 minutes? ”

      That might have something to do with the fact that conditions were worsening.

      After Cameron got caught in possession a few times while trying to take the ball out of defense on the ground it’s probable the word went out to stop screwing around.

      They overdid it a bit but it’s hard to fault anyone for a safety first attitude when you have the lead and given the snow. And towards the end they got better about putting the ball down in CR’s corner and playing the game more in their half.

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  4. DMB was the boss. Too bad he was groomed as a LB as a youth.

    Jozy also looked looked a man-child out there, before this qualifying is through I think he is going to have some really big games.

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  5. The result is fantastic. Horrible conditions but that’s the margins that we’re playing in CONCACAF and in the World Cup in general. Not to say that we have yet reached a good team. We still have a fair amount to go before we can truly say that we are a good team. I thought there was a great fighting spirit that was missing during the Honduras game that was able to bring us through a couple of rough stints during the game (not to mention Guzan). I can’t fault any player, nor tactical choice which is a step forward. The Honduras game was going to teach our inexperienced team a few things; the question was how much? and at what cost? I think Jurgen has partially answered those questions with improved performances from Omar G and (my pick for MOTM) Beasley but we still have progress to make. Sitting 2nd in the Hex is a huge psychological boost for our squad after Mexico’s squandering of 2 goal lead in Honduras, but hopefully our preparation at altitude in Denver will give us what we need to perform in Azteca. I applaud the players on the pitch and a good squad selection amid adverse playing conditions.

    We can’t sit back on our early success now. We have to push for it and try to get a result in Mexico. COME ON YOU YANKS!!

    Reply
    • Had it been an elimination match, no question they would have postponed it.

      As it was it was one of two scheduled matches, there was little chance the game would be postponed or moved somewhere else in the short term. I’m happy they played it out, and would still be happy had we drawn or lost.

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    • I think the issue with postponing the match is that there is very little window to play it in. If they were going to do it during the international break they would have had to play it today but It was supposed to keep on snowing today too wasn’t it? They can’t wait until Sunday or Monday because the teams have to play on Tuesday. June already has 3 qualies and July in Gold Cup. I mean they could have rescheduled but it would have been a pain.

      Reply
  6. Top shelf commitment from every player the U.S. put on the field tonight. Pretty much everybody seems to have realized the spectacular strangeness of the whole spectacle,

    But the takeaways are even stranger. I won’t even bother enumerating them, but the fact is EVERY SINGLE PUNDIT GOT IT HORRIBLY WRONG AND THAT INCLUDES YOU, IVES (you’re still great). This storm certainly came up in a hurry but fact is the locals (of which I know many) were baffled that it hadn’t made the analysis in the last 48 hours. The guys we count on for analysis (Ives, Grant Wahl, Roger Bennett, Jeff Carlisle, whoever) spent their week focusing on the Sporting News article and not something as basic as game-time weather. Time to refocus fellas. We don’t need the Daily Mirror here.

    Reply
      • Bunch of people otherwise talented USA soccer “experts” spent their whole week worrying about Klinsmann, and how some guy called Brian Strauss at the Sporting News managed to set the news. And nobody spent so much as a second checking the weather. They’ll lie to you and tell you the forecast didn’t anticipate this. It had been obvious for 48 hours. Probably 48 years to anybody who knows anything about weather in that region on a day like March 22 (not Sunil Gulati). But a simple check of the weather on Wednesday night could’ve made for a storyline way more interesting (and accurate) than any I probably read in the last two days. Get it?

      • Or more simply, Ed, a journalist’s job in his situation would be:
        1) Identify the information that would be important to an audience of the event
        2) Deliver said information, along with any appropriate analysis

        Didn’t happen, and don’t tell me it was a “surprise storm”. It was sudden, but the notice was there. Ives (and all his peers somehow, not to mention the rest of us) had their attention elsewhere… to me, this fits the criteria of “getting it wrong”. No?

      • There’s no chance whatsoever that a piece exposing a fractured locker room is less interesting than an article about the weather.

        If your “interesting” story is based on the fact that we scheduled our qualifiers in places where we felt we would have a home field advantage, that’s hardly anything worth reporting considering every country on the planet takes those considerations into account. You think Mexico chooses to play at altitude because they like it? Does Costa Rica play at Saprissa because they really like the field and the pro-atmosphere?

      • I agree with you but you aren’t addressing the point. I am just baffled that all of the “things to look for in tomorrow’s critical USMNT qualifier” somehow neglected a massive and certainly available piece of information, that ultimately became the indisputable story of the game.

        I am as interested as anybody in the discussion of the locker-room discord (if it exists). Obviously, this has greater long term importance than the conditions affecting a single qualifier. I am simply pointing out that of all “match previews” out there (most of which were published on Thursday), nobody seems to have bothered to check the weather. Am I asking too much?

  7. This was an interesting new sport that I watched. Snowball may catch on. However I’m concerned that Canada, Finland, Denmark, and Norway may dominate this sport. The US is at a natural disadvantage.

    Reply
    • I’m a Klinsmann skeptic no doubt, and his choices worked out quite well, particularly Beasley. I think it would be a little premature and naive to say all concerns should be erased considering the weird conditions. Clearly the Americans adapted better. Glad we picked up the points but he isn’t completely off the hook.

      Credit where credit is due, but 11 current players’ consensus about Klinsmanns deficiencies isn’t just going to disappear that easily.

      Reply
    • Also for all we know the players met up before the game to discuss tactics a la Bayern. Impossible to know either way. Also want to point out the opinion of JK isn’t based on one game, but several.

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    • I don’t know how you protest a judgment call. There was not a tornado or immediate danger to life and limb. Players were generally able to keep their footing, it more or less looked like soccer, and people were not getting hurt left and right. The ref made a decision and it seemed to be within parameters. I’ve seen these played in pouring rain. Same diff.

      I’m glad this was handled by the ref because even if you don’t get into “World Cup in summer in Qatar,” maybe this is some regional official throwing weight around and justifying his expense account. Let the people on the ground decide this.

      I thought they were doing the right thing but now that sounds like American TV assumptions. I was thinking that was odd for the Bornstein garbage time goal sufferers, who arguably have no reason to do us any favors. This is more like it, a figurative roll around in the snow holding your shin hoping for a call.

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  8. Also–don’t ever question jermaine jones’ dedication.

    Per Klinsmann–Jones got stitches in his ankle at half time and came back out to play!

    Reply
    • His choices certainly worked this time, notably the “riskier” ones of Goodson and DMB.

      Overall the biggest difference from Honduras was effort. The squad seemed motivated and played with a much greater urgency and conviction

      Reply
    • He did?
      A lone striker formation against 5 fullbacks.
      Altidore up top on his own has never worked. Ever.
      Zusi did less than nothing.
      Jones was playing up further than Bradley.

      However, Beasley definitely bailed everyone out. Not to mention the sliding block by Gonzo on Ruiz. The amazing free kick block by Goodson’s head.
      A result is a result. But, we were fortunate to get a win. It was far from a dominant performance.

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  9. Glad we got the points. No pretty soccer. My nerves were shot, because with ever kick of the ball near the US box you had no idea what was going to happen. Back line seemed ok considering, but we will see against Mexico. Hope we play well!

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  10. To me the only letdown was Cameron, who seemed to make some questionable choices in passing. Jones also did some unnecessary things… But personally I’d rather see him sit deeper as opposed to MB so maybe I was looking for things to pick on…

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  11. I agree that this was a good win, and a must needed 3 points. The only player I had a problem with tonight, and almost every game he plays is Zusi. He is absolutely worthless in a USMT uniform. I wish that he wasnt even on the roster

    Reply
    • Even I of limited short-term memory can recall a great cross from the Zooster late in the game. Therefore you are wrong.

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  12. That uncalled penalty was ABSURD. And the player shoving our player into the post and then another player blocking the goalkeeper’s punt.

    Wins feel so good when you throw one up against the referee too. Dude had an agenda.

    Reply
    • Don’t know if this has been brought up either, but did y’all notice that we didn’t have ONE single free kick that we were allowed to take without the whistle being blown? They called us for a foul on every single one. About 5 or 6 free kicks just completely ruined by the ref. Absolutely had an agenda

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      • Yeah, there were some free kicks where we waited to see how long it took for the whistle. On one kick the referee’s whistle blew literally a half second following contact with the ball.

      • This is the thing that really got to me. It was free kicks and corners. He never let us have a set piece anywhere near the CR net.

    • If he had an agenda, he would have abandoned the match and there could have been no complaining about it. He didn’t need to be subtle.

      Reply
  13. It takes a real team effort, serious character, and chemistry to pull off a win in tough conditions like that. Debunking, IMHO, any theories coming out of the sporting news article.

    Now that we have this behind us, it is time to pounce on a Mexican side that is down right now.

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  14. Seriously folks, the weather was not so bad… Any New Englander worth their salt has played in 3 feet of blinding, swirling snow, running up hill, both ways.

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  15. I am really not trying to be a downer, but did anyone else think that maybe CR was not convincing the ref to play in the snow but arguing against it? They approached the ref as a team after the Americans backed off. Right? I don’t have it recorded, but that’s what i seem to remember happening. They were also right up on the ref immediately after the final whistle, arguing about something. I don’t know but it seemed that way to me.

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    • While the question/point is moot, let’s entertain it for a moment.

      I’ve gone back and looked at the recording, knowing that it was later reported the ref simply stopped the match to have the lines shoveled.

      The commentary highlights that the Match Commissioner had decided to call/postpone the match. However, once the match begins, only the ref has the jurisdiction to do so, according to my understanding (and the Match Commissioner’s own account pre-match). Hence, the game continued.

      In re-watching the tape, there could be an argument made that the Costa Rican players were told by the ref (unconfirmed), that the match was being delayed to shovel and their reaction, perhaps in opposition, was to that statement.

      Either way, the match was completed and both teams played in the condition, but interesting point.

      Reply
      • Right on, its just the way it seemed, on-air at least, was that it was sort of unsure what was going on and then all of sudden the ref said something, eventually resulting in the game being completed, and the CR players immediately mobbed him. This was near the end of the delay so I dont know if they would have been arguing about the delay. But, Like you said, it doesn’t matter, we won, however i was sitting there applauding CR big time and i was like wait.

      • Already CR’s coach and some CR FA monkey are threatening to have FIFA nullify the result and replay the game. I’d find it difficult to see FIFA giving into this knowing as has been stated that both teams had to endure the conditions.

        My favorite was a player who stated that CR was robbed three points because of the snow. The MLS based CR players must be thinking it’s a joke since they’ve played in cold before especially Saborio. #roymillerisstillworthless

  16. Just to catch everyone up to speed with some above comments.

    -We have an: “anikan” username (aka “Anakin”)
    -Gnarls has made a Hoth reference.
    -…and Lando Calrissian has responded to a question about Landon Donovan.

    This is why I love coming to this website.

    Reply
  17. Happy for the result but it is difficult to take much more from this. I was actually surprised by the ball control the us showed despite the conditions. Having played in the snow like this, I kno it takes much more finesse than usual to control the ball.

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  18. crap game, random result. BUT wow, was Brad Guzan a stud. In those stupid visibility conditions he controlled his area with only a couple of hiccups. Big time performance.

    I think it is hard to assess what the field players did individually because of the silly nature of the game but they played hard…that is at least something.

    Reply
  19. Man, every one of those pre-game USA-vs-CostaRica preview pictures were lies! For one thing, what the hell is all that green stuff on the ground being shown in all the match preview photographs??

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  20. How bout a little love for Jozy. He played with passion and energy most of the night. I was especially impressed with his efforts late in the game. He is a lightening rod for criticism on most sites, and sometimes deservedly so. But tonight he put in a “herculean” effort. He hustled, scrapped, and was opportunistic like Hercules does typically. Well done Jozy!!

    Reply
    • By all means be sure to moderate positive comments.

      “How bout a little love for Jozy. He played with passion and energy most of the night. I was especially impressed with his efforts late in the game. He is a lightening rod for criticism on most sites, and sometimes deservedly so. But tonight he put in a “herculean” effort. He hustled, scrapped, and was opportunistic like Hercules does typically. Well done Jozy!!”

      Must be a glitch somewhere.

      Reply
      • Nobody’s picking on you. Seems to happen with this site at times, probably tied to the number of posts or Jozy’s player rating in a match.

  21. I’ve already seen the complaints on here that it wasn’t dominating enough.

    Really?

    Costa Rica had no really good chances (barring the disallowed goal which was clearly offside) against a back line that had only one first (or even second) choice player.

    We had MUCH better width and possession than against Honduras.

    The team looked composed and ready for the game, despite a tough week.

    All in all, I am happy….with everything but putting Eddie Johnson in when we did. Zusi needed the break, but we needed a player who knows how to play both ways. Common, JK, I love Eddie, but he is a forward not a winger. Until he learns to play defense, he should be a sub when we need OFFENSE. Other than that, great game!

    Reply
    • Ummm we were out shot badly. We got one lucky bounce or it’s 0-0. It’s good to get a win but we still are not creating enough chances. This won’t fly against Mexico

      Possession is nice but if it doesnt lead to chances then it’s meaningless. My fear is that JK will think he’s on to something and try it again against Mexico. If so, I see zero goals for us

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  22. @JeffreyCarlisle
    Stat of the night: Michael Bradley completed 89.1% of his passes, all with 4 inches of snow on the ground. Incredible. #usmnt

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  23. Not pretty but gritty and the snowy backdrop provided a unique atmosphere, a crucible that is only fitting, given the circumstances surrounding the team this week. They were given a challenge where they had to come together as a team and play like warriors and that is what they did.

    The good

    DMB was everywhere. I was wrong. Mea culpa.
    Deuce was dangerous all game and constantly finding the right place to be at all times.
    Herc the worker never stopped motoring.
    Jozy was tireless and the center of our whole offensive game. He was the only one who could hold onto the ball in the offensive third for large stretches if the match.
    MB’s flick lob passes were masterful though he vanished in the 2d
    Goodson and Omar were tremendous in the air and clean on the ground.
    Guzan looked as if he was playing in 70 degree weather. So sure handed in such difficult conditions.

    The not so good

    Cameron had some great moments but over dribbled at times
    JJ backtracked well but missed the boat on several through balls and over dribbled, and the elbow was sheer stupidity.
    EJ looked dangerous offensively, but provided zero pressure on the ball and was walking around on defense and shying away from challenges

    The not as food.

    Reply
    • I did think that Beasly played well, but his instincts are not defense first . If he gets the start vs Mexico, it will be interesting to see if he can stay home and defend more of the time than was required vs CR.

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      • Dennis,

        “his instincts are not defense first “. Neither are Fabian’s.

        But then again it depends on how you want to play defense. DMB is fast and quick, with excellent recovery speed, keeps the ball well, carries it out of defense well, and attacks as well as anyone on the team. He is an offensive threat.

        All of this means by keeping possession well and making the other team worry about him attacking and their offense suffers.

        Herc said DMB made it very easy to play with him and I can see why he would say that..

        Last night was one of the best all around performances by a US left back I’ve seen in a long time.

    • Given the conditions, having a defensive back carry the ball might seem a dangerous thing but I was thrilled that we actually now have a strong defender who CAN dribble!!

      Reply
  24. We got the 3 points but that wasn’t soccer. The match gives me that uneasy waking up with an ugly bar chick feeling. Yeah we scored tonight but BLEH…

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    • Really? I thought the first half passing and movement was some of the best I’ve seen out of the USMNT for a while.

      The second half was a joke all around, but the USMNT still did a good job not making any mistakes because of the completely ridiculous conditions.

      I’ll take 3 points and the first half performance and look to Mexico as a potential surprise point for the USMNT.

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      • Totally agree regarding the first half passing and movement. Thought that even attempting to play out of the back was gutsy and shows that there is a growing comfort with the new style.

    • You can’t fault the team for not playing attractive soccer in conditions that made doing that physically impossible…unless you’re one of those people that just has to find a negative aspect to everything. We take the three points, make some snow angels, and move on.

      Reply
  25. Beasley yes. Rest of Defense a close second. Altidore 3rd. Dempsey 4th (for captaining and for the goal… the rest of his play was solid, but nothing more).
    I can’t say Guzan did anything noteworthy. He stopped the shots he was supposed to and kept the rebounds nearby. He flapped at one cross and got lucky that he didn’t give up a goal on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he played well, but a close second for MOTM?

    Reply
    • Guzan was incredible in those conditions. The cross he flapped at could barely be seen. He was outstanding for the conditions. Want him over Howard personally. Howard is done

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      • Another performance like that from Guzan and Klinsmann will have a tough decision to make. I don’t envy him that!

        Of course, it is better to have to choose between 2 outstanding keepers than between 2 average ones.

    • My pick for man of the match would be that guy in white who got the ball that time. Honestly, most of the time I couldn’t tell who was who on TV, unless the camera was in a close up shot.

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    • If you don;t think an in form Landon Donovan isn’t a significant up grade over the highly mediocre Graham Zuzi, I don;t know what to tell you…

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      • Word brother! I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a dreamer but this team could be gnarly by the time the actual world cup rolls around. An in form Altidore up top with Dempsey slotted behind, Donovan returns to the midfield out wide plus Holden and Bradley and Jones. Johnson at LB with Cameron, Gonzalez and either Cherundolo/Chandler and you got yourself a team that could make a run….Just saying!

    • I would much rather have him than Zusi. Zusi is neither fast nor a work rate guy and the theoretical technical aspect, like Brad Davis, has not translated at this level.

      There is a long list of players like Landon, Holden, Torres, Mixx, Corona, and even Benny that I’d play first.

      Reply
  26. Fans: What can we take away from this match?
    Answer: 3 points.

    Both teams played in the conditions, both teams wanted to continue playing in the conditions and both teams ended the game with everyone healthy.

    One team walked away with three points.

    Enjoy the chaos for what it was. Anyone complaining about the elements should also complain about humidity, altitude and any other home field advantage experience we face in CONCACAF. Yet, I doubt they will.

    Quit whining, suck it up and take these three points to Azteca looking to “shake things up”, as Dempsey said.

    Reply
      • i think it was gonzos head which stopped costa ricas most dangerous free kick. dmb broke up the most plays on defense and he played a cool, calm game.

        this has got to be a hug boost, considering he played the same position, albeit in a different formation four years ago down in the saprissa loss.

      • The second half free kick was deflected by Goodson, intentional redirect header. Omar was great but Goodson was near perfect.

    • I think Gonzales deserves some consideration. And while I am not Jones’s biggest fan, aside from the one stupid elbow, that was as good a game as he has played in a US shirt. I might have voted for him too

      Reply
      • The only player who couldn’t be considered MOM is Zusi. What a horrible game. He disappeared entirely the first half.

  27. Way to go you Yanks. Got the 3 we are back in it and thank you grounds crew and brave fans who braved the conditions with our guys and supported them through some ugly conditions.

    One game ago – end of the world. Two games in – second place. Funny how the hex works.

    Let’s go USA!!!

    Reply
  28. It’s tough to take anything away from a game played in these sort of conditions, but I thought we looked good and the make-shift backline did pretty well. DMB was pretty good, I thought.

    Reply

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