I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed the U.S. Men’s National Team match against Costa Rica tonight didn’t have more snow angels. But if you take that away, considering everything, I have to say I’m breathing a massive sigh of relief with the result. And I’m on a snow high.
The conditions in Denver were worrisome from the get go. Snow had already started to fall and coat the pitch by the time the whistle blew to start the game. While that was a bit scary, it actually seemed to help the USMNT? I don’t get it either, I won’t pretend to try to understand it. My head is spinning a bit from it. There was even a point at the 55 minute mark that the game was halted. The players pretty much begged to continue – USMNT players because, hey they were in the lead off an early goal from Clint Dempsey, and Costa Rica players because they were in the middle of strong run at the US goal – and so the ref allowed the game to continue.
Insanity, folks. Utter insanity. The Battle for Hoth, for you fellow Star Wars geeks out there (And credit for Jared from the Best Soccer Show for coming up with that. I’m sorry, it’s awesome). But it was the bit of insanity I think the team needed, especially after the past week. So, to recap the night? I’ll keep it to a few points.
1.) DaMarcus Beasley – Wow. Just, wow. I am not too ashamed to admit when I saw he was going to be a left back for the match, I was pretty damn frightened by the prospect. That’s not the man’s natural position. And the last time he played … well, that didn’t end so well. But, I can admit when I’m put in my place. Tonight that man put me in it. I can’t believe how right this call was for U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. I’m still on the fence as to whether it was sheer dumb luck or something he was able to piece together through training sessions.
Whatever the case, it was a damn good call. DaMarcus was spectacular tonight. He tracked back, got Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz feeling off balance a few times and was able to help push the ball up the field. I was incredibly pleased. So you go, DaMarcus. Bask in this win cause you helped them earn it, man.
2.) Jozy Altidore – Again, another wow. I’ve been pretty disappointed in Jozy as of late. It’s been one of those instances where he hasn’t been able to transfer his club performance to country. Now, it wasn’t a perfect game for him. There were many passes he wasn’t able to hook up on. But, he put in some work. He did get some nice shots on goal; one that deflected into the path of Clint Dempsey for the lone goal of the match.
I think if the snow hadn’t been so bad, we might have seen a Jozy goal. I feel like this was the first step toward the Jozy Altidore USMNT fans used to see. And all I have to say to that is, “Welcome back, Jozy!”
3.) The Back Four – If you would have told me you weren’t worried about the defense situation of the USMNT, I would have told you, you were nuts. With the team’s “injuries” – some of which I’m not really sure are justifiable, hence the quotations – Klinsmann was digging deep in the talent pool to figure out what to do. He chose Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez and DaMarcus Beasley … and it freakin’ worked. It worked really well.
Goodson was stellar, giving the stability and experience that was needed. And he was just spot on all night. Great clearances, holding the line … just fabulous. Cameron made a few mistakes here and there, but overall, he put in great work on the right. Beasley, see above. And Omar was a bit quiet but he did his job and did it well. He deserved the start and is a solid defensive player, one I hope Jurgen continues to use.
So, I applaud you Jurgen. You nailed it. In a crazy, snow blizzard, these four held it together. They got a little shaky there toward the end, but over all, I am massively happy with their performance.
4.) The USMNT Coming Together – After what is being labeled as “Klinsmann Gate” earlier this week with Brain Straus’ article, everyone knew this team had a lot to prove. They had two options. Rise to the occasion and show the fans and the media they could over come, or fall into tragedy and into the rumors and accusations. And while as a fan, I believed there had been a lack of communication and a disconnect, I was praying they would bond together and learn from the experience.
I believe they did just that with this game. And you can say the weather thwarted it, even if they did win, and this game didn’t count, but I would say you’re wrong. They came together and the team as a whole had a good game considering the conditions. From Brad Guzan in goal to Altidore up front, the USMNT went out and performed and they got the three points they needed. Of course this game counted! It was always going to be the difference between frustration at dropping points or relief and elation at nabbing a win. As Taylor Twellman is fond of saying, a win is a win. Let’s not try to break that down or take that away from the players or hell, ourselves as fans. The USMNT are now sitting second in the group; I’ll take that, thank you very much.
5.) Geoff Cameron, snow shoveler – Because I want to round out to five points in this, I’m going to end with probably one of the most awesome ones. We might not have seen snow angels from the USMNT. But we did get to see Geoff Cameron put in some work helping the grounds crew shovel snow off the lines.
Yes, you read that right. In stoppage time of the game, the cameras panned over to see Cameron helping one of the snow shovelers push their shovel full of snow across and off the pitch. It was pretty cool to see. Especially when you factor in the game was minutes from being over and the snow was getting heavier and heavier. So go you, Geoff. That was pretty cool.
Side note: Every one of the 20,000 fans that were in that stadium, you all are amazing. Staying through that entire game and being loud the entire time. You guys represented well and it was fantastic.
To wrap up; with snow up to their ankles, no one played “beautiful” football. But I could care less. It’s almost 1 a.m. here in Indiana and I’m still grinning. The USMNT needed that win, not just for the points. The game will go down in history; for the snow, for the craziness leading up to it and for the win. Some times it’s not all about the style of play.