After losing their first match in the final round of World Cup qualifying under hostile conditions in Honduras, the US beat Costa Rica 1-0 in the midst of a Colorado snow storm that proved advantageous. Inch after inch of wet powder was dumped onto the pitch throughout the match and early in the second half, with the US already leading, it seemed as if officials were ready to abandon it. Players from both sides appeared to plead with the referee to let the match continue, which it did. But once all the sloppy fun was had and Costa Rica lost, they realized they had a gripe.
[Related: Was U.S. soccer win a snow job?]
Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto vented to the press after the game (via Reuters):
"It was an embarrassment to football, disrespectful to the game," an animated Pinto told reporters.
The game was played at the 19,374 capacity Dicks Sporting Goods Park, home of Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, nestled at the foot of the Rockie Mountains.
Pinto said the "legal conditions" for playing the game were not in place and a Federation official told Costa Rican media that an official protest would be made to FIFA on Saturday.
Pinto's players, like Christian Bolanos, who has played in the frosty Danish Superliga and Norwegian Tippeligaen, also bemoaned the conditions after the loss (via MLSsoccer.com):
“We were robbed,” Costa Rica midfielder Cristian Bolanos told MLSsoccer.com post-game. “I think the whole world is going to commentate, ‘what is that game?’ The referees that we had today didn’t handle it properly. They cost us three points.”
Regardless of the weather, postponing the game would've caused considerable problems for both teams. They would've had to complete it within 48 hours and both sides have to travel for their next matches on Tuesday.
According to Reuters, US federation president Sunil Gulati claimed that playing the match in Colorado this time of year had nothing to do with trapping their opponents arctic conditions and instead was designed as high-altitude training for the US's trip to Mexico City next week.
It seems unlikely that any action will result from Costa Rica's protest, but hey -- from their perspective they've already lost so it's worth a shot.
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