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Last Friday, about 20,000 hearty souls packed Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to watch the United States Men’s National soccer team square off against a dozen or so not-so-hearty Costa Ricans in a qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup.
The fortitude factor arose because, as you’ve no doubt heard by now, the match was played in a driving blizzard and sub-30-degree temperatures. By the end, the snow on the field was so deep the players’ cleats were no longer visible, and the Americans used one of the greatest home field advantages in sports history to prevail, 1-0.
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The end almost came early. About 10 minutes into the second half, the Costa Rican coach stopped the game to argue to the officials that the whole thing should be postponed because the conditions had become unplayable. (The U.S. had scored the lone goal about 15 minutes into the first half, and speculation in the stands was that if C.R. had evened the tally, the refs probably would have discontinued the match. C.R. has formally protested the game to FIFA, the sport’s governing body.)
The pro-U.S. crowd, many of whom had flown in from all over the country and beyond, was remarkably well behaved and generally shunned any boorish antics despite ample temptations: The frigid temperatures encouraged the pursuit of a numbing beer buzz, and the enticingly packable snow that blanketed the stadium remained mostly unthrown. (That said, had a premature evacuation been ordered, Dick’s likely would have witnessed an epic snowball fight.)
All in all, the evening showed the world just how “up” Coloradans are for anything. U.S. Soccer officials chose Denver for this match as preparation for its next high-altitude game, Tuesday night in Mexico City. They obviously didn’t anticipate the weather, although we Centennial Staters know that in late-March, anything is meteorologically possible, and that it won’t keep us from doing anything outside. So keep these cold-weather games coming because in an early-spring snowstorm, we may have found the key ingredient that could make American soccer a worldwide success.
Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.