It could be the most memorable match in recent U.S. Soccer history. On March 22, 2013, the United States Men’s National Team were in Commerce Park, Colorado for an important World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. It starts out to be a warm day in suburban Denver, but as the day progresses, it quickly becomes a different story. A snowstorm hits the area, and by kickoff, the snow is coming down hard and fast. It set the scene for what would be dubbed the “Snow Clasico.”
It was the second match of the final Hexagonal qualifying round for the USMNT, who had lost a match the month before in Honduras. This was a chance to get back on track at home, where they had a 22-match unbeaten streak at the time. Costa Rica was also looking for their first win, as they had drawn Panama before the trip to Colorado. Still, both teams were about to deal with the elements.
By the time the match started, the yellow ball was necessary to play, but play began. As the snow continued to fall, it got to a point where the groundskeepers couldn’t keep the lines clear fast enough before snow covered them up again. It didn’t stop Clint Dempsey, who punched through and sent a shot into the back of the net in the 16th minute, sending fans into delirium while they threw fresh powder in the air to celebrate.
The snow persisted throughout the match, and in the 55th minute, the referee stopped play momentarily to consult with both teams and the FIFA match commissioner. Players from both teams insisted that the match continue, so the lines were cleared once again and the play resumed.
Costa Rica had a couple other chances to equalize in the 2nd half, but Brad Guzan, starting in place of injured Tim Howard, was able to parry them all away. The final whistle blew, and fans celebrated. More snow was thrown, and the U.S. had an important 1-0 victory.
It helped propel the USMNT back into the mix early in the Hex, but afterwards Costa Rica was angry at the conditions. They protested to FIFA to demand that the match be replayed, but FIFA said the result would stand. It was a massive 3 points for the USMNT, and it will go down as one of the most memorable matches ever played.