Snowy conditions bring Americans out of the cold and into the warmth of team camaraderie

Graham Watson
Yahoo! Sports
View photos
`COMMERCE CITY, CO - MARCH 22: A large United States flag is stretched out by fans to celebrate a goal as United States players return to kickoff position during a FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between Costa Rica and United States at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on March 22, 2013 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Few United States players could recall ever playing in conditions like the ones they faced against Costa Rica at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Friday night.

Driving snow, swirling wind, freezing temperatures. In short: a blizzard.

But many players said the experience in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica was exactly what the U.S. needed to find the unity that had been missing since the final round of World Cup qualifying began last month.

"A lot has gone on this week and we talked about still knowing that the real response would come when we stepped on the field," midfielder Michael Bradley said in response to criticism Jurgen Klinsmann's team faced over the past week. "As a team on the inside, we talked about it beforehand. Not knowing what the game would be like, how the conditions would be, but the thing that had to be there was the commitment, the mentality, the determination, the willingness of every guy to fight for the guy next to him.

Clint Dempsey (8) celebrates his winning goal with Michael Bradley (4) against Costa Rica. (AP)
Clint Dempsey (8) celebrates his winning goal with Michael Bradley (4) against Costa Rica. (AP)

"So I think on a night like tonight, that's what carried us through."

In a game where the field was covered with more than three inches of snow, the sense of camaraderie might have been the best thing the Americans could take away from the victory. Well, that and a much-needed three points that elevated them from sixth place in the Hexagonal to second heading into Tuesday's big showdown at Mexico.

The U.S. desperately needed to feel better about itself after a tough loss to Honduras in the Hexagonal opener led to mass criticism by both media and fans and ultimately a report in the Sporting News that quoted several players as being unhappy with Klinsmann. However, all of that seemed to fade into the background when midfielder Clint Dempsey knocked in a deflection in the 16th minute to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.

And while a fairly pretty first half turned into a sloppy and miserable second half – thanks to increased snowfall that even led to a brief stoppage while the referees asked the field crew to be more active about clearing snow off the endlines and sidelines – it was still a solid result and a building block for a young American team.

Now, the U.S. heads into Estadio Azteca in Mexico City with a little bit of moxie, which will be necessary in what will no doubt be a tough match against a Mexico squad that has yet to win a game. Both teams will be itching for three points to stay in the hunt for a spot in next year's World Cup.

[Slideshow: Team USA, Costa Rica battle it out in the snow]

"We're in a better position in the table and there's less pressure," Dempsey said. "We find ourselves in second going down to Mexico with that confidence. It's kind of when you get a good result or you score a goal. It kind of helps you get on a little bit of a run and it's whether or not you can keep that run going. So, hopefully, we can use it to our advantage of getting that win and getting back to winning ways and kind of stay on that pattern."

The U.S. is 16-32-12 against Mexico all time and, up until last August, had never beaten El Tri on their home soil. The surprising 1-0 result seemingly made people believe the Americans could become a soccer power and compete with some of the better soccer nations in the world.

Friday's win provided another source of confidence for this team, especially after spending a week getting used to high-altitude conditions similar to Mexico City. The Americans will actually stay in Denver until Sunday – partially due to the snow – before traveling to much warmer temperatures south of the border. Mexico is coming off a 2-2 draw against Honduras and has just two points in the Hexagonal so far.

"The main thing now is excitement," Bradley said. "You have a chance to go to that stadium to play against that team, and as a player those are the type of games you want to play in."

Klinsmann wasn't exactly as poetic about the trip.

"[Mexico] is as desperate as we are," he said.

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Best of the NCAA tournament: Day 2
NFL evaluators have guidelines for prospect questioning
Orioles win scheduling conflict battle with NFL
Watch: Heat rally for 25th straight win

  • Video: Growing Outrage Over Road Rage Death of Former NFL Player

    And outrage is mounting over the shooting in Louisiana that killed a former NFL player. Tonight, one witness coming forward to say what she saw during that deadly confrontation. Here's Eva pilgrim. Reporter: Tonight, new details about that deadly encounter. An eyewitness speaking out. I just stood there like, oh, my god, he really just shot this man. Reporter: Police say Ronald gasser admitting shooting Joe Mcknight. Vanessa Scott saying what she says she saw happened. He was like this at the window. Once he moved from the window, he walked around to the front part after the car, kept his arm locked. Reporter: And pointing? Pointed at the front of the car. Reporter: At the windshield? Yes, the

    ABC News
  • Draymond Green fires back at league: “It’s funny how you can tell me… how my body is supposed to react”

    It’s not hard to find out how Draymond Green felt after picking up a flagrant foul Thursday night when his leg flew up after a foul and caught James Harden in the face. Just go to his Twitter feed. Saturday at Warriors’ practice, Green expanded on the subject, here’s the video via Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News. If you prefer to read are Green’s comments transcribed: “I just laugh at it. It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements. I’m not sure if they took kinesiology for their positions to tell you how your body is going to react when you get hit in a certain position.

  • Chelsea comes back from halftime deficit to defeat Man City

    After following behind by a goal in the first half, Chelsea scored three goals in the second half to beat Man City and strengthen its position at the top of the table.

    NBC Sports
  • Bryan Price likely to use Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen in closer’s role

    C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said: I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our

  • Mets Hot Stove: What is the ideal Mets outfield?

    Owners, players, MLB officials and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached an agreement Wednesday night on new a five-year collective bargaining agreement, the league announced Friday afternoon. The deal includes revised rules for free-agent and qualifying offer compensation, the international amateur market and luxury tax threshold. In the previous labor deal, teams were fined for payrolls exceeding $189 million. In the new agreement, the luxury tax threshold will rise annually from $195 million to $210 million. Teams that repeatedly exceed the payroll threshold by a certain rate will be subject to increasing tax rates, which could reach as high as 90 percent.  Teams will still

  • Hot Stove Digest: Rich Hill expected to re-sign with Dodgers

    COMING BACK: Though a deal is not yet complete, multiple reports on Saturday suggested that the Los Angeles Dodgers were on the verge of re-signing left-hander Rich Hill. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons was the first to report that at least one rival executive believed that Hill and the Dodgers were in agreement on a three-year deal worth over $40 million. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that while no deal is confirmed, the known competition for Hill had reportedly moved on, leaving the door open for a deal to be completed soon. Rich Hill seems pumped up at the thought of returning to the Dodgers.

    Big League Stew
  • Penn State moves to No. 5 in post-championship weekend AP poll

    Penn State is in the top five after beating Wisconsin. (Getty) If the AP poll is any indication of how the College Football Playoff field will look, Penn State is going to miss out. The Nittany Lions moved up to No. 5 — or the first team outside the CFP

    Dr. Saturday
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain makes it 4-1 for Arsenal

    Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sends a curling shot from the top of the box and scores to give his side a 4-1 lead over West Ham.

    NBC Sports
  • Will Andrew Luck shine in his return?

    Yahoo Sports' Fantasy Football Live crew looks ahead to Monday night's Colts vs. Jets meeting in New York.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Hamilton not chasing number one status at Mercedes after Rosberg exit

    Lewis Hamilton says he is not chasing number one driver status at Mercedes as the team begins its search for a replacement for Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg. Rosberg edged out Hamilton for the F1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi last Sunday before sensationally announcing his immediate retirement from the sport five days later. Mercedes has said it will take its time when looking for a replacement for Rosberg, with the majority of the F1 grid tied up contractually for 2017. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have both been linked with the Mercedes drive in the wake of Rosberg’s departure, leading to questions about whether Hamilton would want another big-name star alongside him.

  • Report: Peyton Manning invited to join Augusta National Golf Club

    Peyton Manning carries a 4.4 USGA handicap index. Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is apparently set to become a member of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, according to a report from Austin Rhodes of the Augusta-area radio station, WGAC. Augusta National does not (and is under no obligation to) discuss membership matters, so it’s not like there will be confirmation or denial.

    Devil Ball Golf
  • Chapecoense fiancee: We should be married now

    Dener Assuncao Braz was one of the 19 Chapecoense players killed in the Colombian plane crash last week. Amanda Machado had been with Dener for seven years and she's at a loss to explain the sudden turn of events.

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic chips Maarten Stekelenburg to give Man United the lead

    Everton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg comes off his line to try to get the ball, but Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic chips Stekelenburg and does just enough to score to give his side a 1-0 lead.

    NBC Sports
  • Alderson talks OF trade, Wheeler in bullpen on eve of winter meetings

    Owners, players, MLB officials and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached an agreement Wednesday night on new a five-year collective bargaining agreement, the league announced Friday afternoon. The deal includes revised rules for free-agent and qualifying offer compensation, the international amateur market and luxury tax threshold. In the previous labor deal, teams were fined for payrolls exceeding $189 million. In the new agreement, the luxury tax threshold will rise annually from $195 million to $210 million. Teams that repeatedly exceed the payroll threshold by a certain rate will be subject to increasing tax rates, which could reach as high as 90 percent.  Teams will still

  • Yankees agree to deal with Matt Holliday for $13 million

    Cardinals’ outfielder Matt Holliday obliges the fans with a curtain call after hitting a pinch-hit home run during a 7-0 with against the Pirates. Before general manager Brian Cashman could make his grand entrance at the Winter Meetings, the New York Yankees have landed a key free agent. According to FanRag Sports Jon Heyman, the Yankees have reached a one-year, $13M agreement with Matt Holliday, who will likely serve as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter.

    Big League Stew
  • Best from the Sprint Cup Awards red carpet

    Here’s a look at the stars of the Sprint Cup Series arriving with their families on the red carpet for Friday night’s award banquet in Las Vegas

    NASCAR Talk
  • Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell describes himself as 'not just a running back'

    Paul Burmeister speaks with Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell after becoming the first Steeler with three consecutive 100-yard rush games since 2007. Bell describes himself as an "all-around" running back and a "playmaker."

    NBC Sports
  • Coyotes' Mike Smith sets franchise record with 58 saves in loss

    Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith picks up his stick after giving up the game-winning goal to Columbus Blue Jackets center Sam Gagner during the shootout of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Blue Jackets defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout. Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets was one to remember but also one to forget for Arizona Coyotes netminder Mike Smith. The Coyotes dropped their third straight with a 3-2 shootout loss, but Smith was outstanding as he made a franchise record 58 saves on the night, including 22 in the third period.

    Puck Daddy
  • Vettel, Raikkonen complete hot laps in Ferrari F1 cars at Daytona

    Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed their final Formula 1 run-outs of 2016 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, taking part in a special demonstration for the Ferrari Finali Mondiali. The Finali Mondiali acts as the world final for the continental Ferrari Challenge series, bringing together competitors from the North America, Europe and Asia Pacific championships. As part of the weekend’s running, Vettel and Raikkonen were on hand to complete demonstration laps behind the wheel of recent Ferrari F1 cars, with Vettel also completing some donuts in front of the main granstand at Daytona. Here are some of the videos and pictures from the event.

  • The Big Ten might have stirred up what should have been calm CFP waters

    Penn State’s Big Ten Championship win might give the College Football Playoff Committee something to think about. Despite Alabama’s dismantling of Florida in the SEC title game — we all expected that anyway — the championship games were close, entertaining and added some intrigue to what should have been an anticlimactic College Football Playoff announcement on Sunday. No. 7 Penn State’s dramatic 38-31 come-from-behind win against No. 6 Wisconsin creates an interesting conundrum.

    Dr. Saturday
  • Adam Jones didn't like Orioles farewell gift to David Ortiz

    Orioles’ star Adam Jones presents David Ortiz with a dugout phone, which Ortiz smashed during a game in 2013. The David Ortiz farewell tour was filled with many memorable moments. Prior to his final game at Camden Yards, on Sept. 21, the Orioles rolled out the red carpet, showed highlights of Ortiz mashing home runs against the mutual rival New York Yankees, and then presented him with the actual visitor’s dugout phone he once destroyed during an in-game meltdown.

    Big League Stew
  • Washington should be upset about DeSean Jackson report

    As the Eagles make a last-ditch effort to pull themselves back into the NFC wild-card race, they need to climb over several teams. At a minimum, they need to get past the third-place team in their division: Washington. And now that Washington receiver DeSean Jackson knows that the Eagles are likely to make a strong push to sign him in free agency, Jackson will have that reality bouncing around inside his head during the final five games of the regular season. Which should make Washington upset about the report. It’s hard to know with certainty the impact this information will have on Jackson. Will he go out and play even harder in order to attract others to the table? Or will he be more inclined

    NBC Sports: ProFootballTalk
  • Will increased level of chemistry between Anthony and Rose continue?

    Carmelo Anthony was red hot as the Knicks built up a lead against the Timberwolves on Friday. Connecting on five shots from long range, there was clearly an extra pep in his step as he broke out of what has been a much too long offensive slump. Anthony ran the floor with gusto as he made shot after shot in transition. It's clear he can create for himself when necessary, but his teammates undoubtedly aided his efforts to have a breakthrough game against Minnesota. His 29 point performance was needed. With more talent than ever before in Anthony's Knickerbocker tenure gracing this roster, he no longer has to carry New York on his back. He does, however, have to learn how to trust and lean on those

  • Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

    Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team. Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter. The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s

  • Strong pressure helped ease Gunners to five-goal performance

    Arsenal continues to apply pressure at the top of the Premier League, and Saturday’s performance at the London Stadium showed just how dangerous the Gunners can be away from home. The Gunners took advantage of several West Ham mistakes on the afternoon, including a first-half turnover that sent Alexis Sanchez into the penalty area before setting up a simply tap-in finish for Mesut Ozil. Arsene Wenger‘s side went on to score four more times in Arsenal’s 5-1 rout against the Hammers, and Frenchman suggested post match that much of his team’s success was due to their willingness to high press and force West Ham into mistakes. “I think overall we had a strong team performance for 90 minutes with