Fittest loser
Article updated: 3/22/2013 11:51 PM

Snow job: Americans beat Costa Rica 1-0 in storm

United States midfielder Graham Zusi (19) and Costa Rica defender Bryan Oviedo (8) go up for a header during the first half of a World Cup qualifier soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

United States midfielder Graham Zusi (19) and Costa Rica defender Bryan Oviedo (8) go up for a header during the first half of a World Cup qualifier soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

 
Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, left, pulls the jersey of United States forward Clint Dempsey (8) during the first half of a World Cup qualifier soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, left, pulls the jersey of United States forward Clint Dempsey (8) during the first half of a World Cup qualifier soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

 
Costa Rica midfielder Ariel Rodgriguez, front left, tackles United States midfielder Jermaine Jones, right, during the first half of a World Cup qualifier soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Costa Rica midfielder Ariel Rodgriguez, front left, tackles United States midfielder Jermaine Jones, right, during the first half of a World Cup qualifier soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

 
 1 of 3 
 
text size: AAA
By Associated Press

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- On a snowy night more suitable to slaloms than soccer, Clint Dempsey scored early in his first start as the American captain and the United States beat Costa Rica 1-0 on Friday in a key qualifier for next year's World Cup.

Plows and shovels were used to clear the penalty areas, center circle and midfield stripe as snow got heavier, and a yellow-and-purple ball was used. There was even a brief stoppage in the 55th minute when it was unclear whether the match commissioner would let the contest continue.

Advertisement

But the game resumed and will be remembered in American soccer for the elements as much as the 1967 Ice Bowl is in the NFL. As the snow increased, it made the field resemble a cake topped with piles of sugar, and players' hair turned white as snow stuck along their scalps. During injury time, American defender Geoff Cameron even playfully pushed the back of a grounds crew member shoveling the field.

"It was difficult out here to see anything," Dempsey said. "We were able to come together when we needed to."

As the conditions deteriorated, the U.S. survived Michael Umana's apparent 70th-minute goal for Costa Rica goal that was disallowed for offside and came away with a red-very-white-and-blue victory. Brad Guzan, in goal because Tim Howard was injured, slid in the snow after balls like a kid in a park.

After wasting an early lead and losing their final-round opener last month at Honduras, the Americans were under pressure to come up with a win, especially with their next game Tuesday at regional power Mexico. Dempsey's 16th-minute goal lifted them from last place in the six-nation group to second, one point behind Honduras, which rallied from two goals down for a 2-2 tie at home against Mexico.

The U.S. extended its home unbeaten streak in qualifying to 23 games over a dozen years (21-0-2).

The gametime temperature of 30 degrees -- 54 below the start temperature for the 2-1 loss at Honduras last month, when the Americans withered in the heat and humidity as the match went on.

When DaMarcus Beasley slid on his back following a collision, he formed a bit of a snow angel.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, criticized earlier in the week in a Sporting News story citing unidentified players and others close to the team, used his 24th lineup in 24 matches since replacing Bob Bradley. With eight players out because of injuries and illness, the 30-year-old Beasley was at left back in his first competitive international start since the 2009 Confederations Cup. Cameron was shifted to right back and Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson started in central defense in front of Guzan, who made his first start in three years. Landon Donovan remains absent on sabbatical.

Dempsey, a tough Texan who didn't wear gloves in the first half, became captain when Carlos Bocanegra was dropped because of inaction with his club in Spain and Howard broke two bones in his back. Dempsey's only previous experience with the armband was three years ago, during the second half of an exhibition against Colombia.

He scored after Jozy Altidore's 19-yard shot deflected off Roy Miller, the defender who has struggled this season with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls. The ball bounced toward Dempsey, whose right-footed shot from in front went in for his seventh goal in in qualifying for Brazil and his 12th career score in qualifying. Used to wet weather in England's Premier League, Dempsey got his 32nd goal in 92 appearances,

The U.S. appealed to referee Joel Aguilar of El Salvador for a penalty kick after Miller tripped Dempsey in the 42nd but was denied.

Comments ()
We are now using Facebook comments to offer a more inclusive, social and constructive discussion. Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.

This article filed under

Latest Video
Sports Calendar

MostViewed

Today
Yesterday
Most Commented
Top Jobs

    View all Top Jobs Place a job ad

    MarketsReport

    DHExtras

       
    • Newspaper next section - Newspaper next section Report card checker - report card checker
    • Dh innovation award 2 - Dh innovation award 2 Zillow /real estate page
    • Discuss refer On Guard series
    • Newspaper archives -- Monday or anyday Mike North

    FacebookActivity

    BusinessDirectory

    Connect with a business or service in your area fast. First select a town, then enter a search term or choose one of the listed popular searches:

    Don't see your town listed? Visit our full directory to begin your search.