The United States Men’s soccer team battled Costa Rica and a vicious snowstorm in Colorado Friday night, as the Americans escaped with a 1-0 win and a much-needed three points in World Cup Qualifying. The game capped off a tumultuous week for the team amidst a series of articles with quotes from anonymous players questioning the methods and effectiveness of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The U.S. also had to deal with a multitude of injuries affecting the team’s roster, including starting goalie Tim Howard and several key defensive players.
The situation surrounding the team did not procure much confidence in the team’s ability to get a win, and the playing conditions didn’t help either, but the Americans showed great character, fortitude and perseverance in getting the win. With snow piling up on the playing surface, the U.S. dug in as best they could, scored a goal early and defended well enough to hang on for the win.
One individual that stood out was forward Jozy Altidore, who played strong all night and was instrumental in the Americans scoring their goal, which was put in by Clint Dempsey on a rebound following a shot from Altidore from 20 yards out. Getting the start for the U.S. at left back, a major question mark heading into the game, was DeMarcus Beasley. A wily veteran that is known more as an attacking player and keeps getting chances with the national team, Beasely was an unlikely starter at left back, but Friday night he played as well as he has in a U.S. uniform in quite some time. Beasley not only helped to push the ball forward, but he was part of a back line that played exceptionally well in difficult conditions for defensive players and helped goalie Brad Guzan secure the clean sheet. At times the Costa Ricans put the U.S. under a good amount of pressure in search of an equalizer, but Guzan and the defense stood tall and was up to every challenge.
The win for the Americans, especially amidst such turmoil, is a great sigh of relief, as they moved into second place in the CONCACAF standings with eight games to play. From here, the U.S. travels to Mexico Tuesday night for what should be a difficult game, but that will be played on grass, not snow. The Americans should feel good about themselves following this game, and they should have some confidence heading into Tuesday’s game after beating Mexico in Estadio Azteca last August, which means the U.S. may be on the verge of turning things around under Klinsmann and taking big steps towards qualifying for the World Cup.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.