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USMNT embracing the cold weather heading into upcoming World Cup Qualifiers

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The U.S. men’s national team had to endure and still has to endure some tough environments in the current World Cup Qualifying cycle, but this round will have Gregg Berhalter’s side looking to use more than their fans and a star-studded roster to move one step closer to its goal.

Weather has been one of the main talking points ahead of the USMNT’s opening January qualifier against El Salvador on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio. The USMNT will also embark on a trip to Hamilton, Ontario in Canada on Sunday before closing out its penultimate round of qualification next week in St. Paul, Minnesota.

After playing in the warm conditions during the early stages of the octagonal round, the Americans are aiming to use the low temperatures to their advantage, starting with a rematch against El Salvador at Lower.com Field.

“I was just outside today training and it’s really cold, and my feet felt cold,” said Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson on Monday. “But listen, I’m used to it, I just got back from where it was snowing last game. So I think a lot of these guys are used to it, playing in Europe, and most of the MLS guys, I would imagine. So yeah, I think we’re ready to go.

“There’s no real way of getting around how cold you’re going to be,” Aaronson added. “I think just kind of coming to terms with it and having little things you can do, like getting hand warmers or maybe wearing double socks in the game, maybe little things you can do. But there’s no, really, way of getting past that. I think it’s just you got to get warm as fast as you can on the field and all the adrenaline starts to kick in, and then you’re ready to go in the game.”

While the USMNT will have Sunday’s road trip to Canada circled multiple times on its calendar, Thursday’s home match against a stingy El Salvador side is just as important. The USMNT failed to defeat Hugo Perez’s side back in September, gathering just one point in a lackluster scoreless draw in San Salvador.

Now with points coming at a premium, the USMNT will be focused on overcoming the projected single-digit temperatures in Columbus and walking away with an important win with only six matches left to play.

“It’s mind over matter,” Berhalter said following the roster announcement last Friday. “This is an opportunity for us to gain an advantage on our opponents. They’re all coming from the equator, and it’s going to be really difficult for them to deal with these conditions.

“They’re going to take a couple breaths in and it’s going to hit them like they’d never been before,” Berhalter added. “And our guys who have been playing in Europe, in cooler temperatures, and most of the guys here have played in cool temperatures, will be ready to go.”

The USMNT will face pressure to secure at least two wins during this qualifying window, regardless of the temperature or weather conditions in Columbus this Thursday. The Americans are sitting in second place in the standings, but a victory Thursday paired with dropped points by the Canadians against Honduras would catapult the USMNT to the top of the table heading into Sunday’s trip to Tim Hortons Field.

With star players like Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Christian Pulisic leading the way, the USMNT is ready to embrace the moment and possibly make some new history in Ohio this week.

“It’s something I think everyone’s looking forward to,” USMNT left back Antonee Robinson said about the weather conditions. “Growing up in England, I’m not a stranger to snow. Kind of takes me back to when I was younger, I remember Boxing Day, it was a big thing in my Sunday league team, we used to play ‘dads vs. lads,’ so all the sons would be playing against the dads on a snowy pitch. That’s some of the happiest football I have ever played.”

Comments

  1. curious, why did Canada soccer select Tim Horton stadium in Hamilton rather than BMO Field in Toronto? It has fake turf rather than real grass. not very far from Toronto and stadium appears less comfy than BMO. Just wondering what I am missing? thanks

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  2. I totally agree with Rico Po, we should have enough confidence in our skill, and roster to play these teams in conditions that maximize our potential rather than focusing on minimizing theirs. I understand the Mexico game, but we should not be taking a defensive approach for El Salvador or Honduras. Playing two home games in these conditions likely introduces more risks than benefits. I hope we do not regret this decision.

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  3. Embracing the conditions- as they should be. Glad to hear it. Hope they do and I suppose the other side doesn’t.

    It all may work out just fine but… count me in with those that would much rather watch a man v man soccer match than a battle of man against nature. Personally, I can’t help but think that intentionally screwing up playing conditions, slowing the game, increasing the likelihood of injury to play teams we have a clear technical advantage over rings of over-thinking, over-complicating, making things much more difficult than they need to be and actually levels up a match for inferior teams. But we do tend to do that a lot it seems. Hopefully we have decent field conditions- not complete white out- frozen tundra. In the end- if conditions are completely atrocious- rather than a football contest, we’ve signed up for a hard to watch, brutal to play battle of attrition… a lottery… a game of chance to see which team gets victimized by a gaff due to a horrible bounce, skidded ball or skidding player. Sorry, but I’m hoping for 40 degrees, clear skies, no wind and a decent game of soccer.

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    • I agree. This game, and the one in St. Paul, should have been in Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh or anyplace with better weather.
      Notwithstanding the to-be-expected take of the players that “we embrace the winter weather”, who’s to say this weather isn’t going to hurt us as much as our opponents? Just because Pulisic is from PA, you really think he’s going to be comfortable playing in temperatures near 0 (that’s the forecast for St. Paul next Wednesday)? Keep our fingers crossed that nobody gets hurt.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. Intentionally going to difficult conditions in games we should be heavily favored in is a very risky move. If this ends in a sloppy 0-0 there needs to be someone held accountable. I cannot understand it

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    • I think a lot of the selection came down to where the Canada game was being played. If it had been in Vancouver,, we would have been playing El Salvador snd Honduras in different venues. As is, Columbus is a good venue and is real close to Toronto, closer to Hamilton. USA will be in Canada, before Canada, who play in Honduras tonight. Honduras have two home games, before traveling to the USA. Let them come play in St. Paul Minn. yeah, they’ll be ready for that! Get three points tonight, in convincing fashion, and we are very close.

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