March 22 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the mile high city of Denver is a night United States and Costa Rican players will never forget. The Costa Ricans have certainly proven that this week that their 1-0 loss that night is not forgotten.
Why has this particular defeat stuck in the memory more than others? Well, because it was played in a blizzard and was very nearly stopped. However, the match was not abandoned, despite protests from the away side, and Clint Dempsey's 16th minute goal was enough to send the Costa Rica team home with no points and a lot of anger.
The Costa Rican FA complained to FIFA, but the governing body rejected the appeal, saying instead that the result would stand.
This Friday the pair will meet again, this time in the warmer climates of Costa Rica. The countries met in the Gold Cup this summer in the States, but the Costa Ricans finally have the chance to see the USA visit their own country. And, after their cold night in Denver, the Costa Ricans have done everything they can to ensure the USA's welcome is as far from warm as possible.
Instead of bringing the USA team through customs through a private terminal at San Jose airport, as was the normal procedure, the contingent from the States was this time brought through along with the public and a long wait.
Costa Rican fans then jeered the team at their hotel after throwing eggs at the team bus on its way from the airport.
Not the best welcome, but also nothing that should affect the team when it comes to matters on the pitch. On Wednesday, though, the team went to practice... at a dairy factory's field after no other facility would accept them.
And although a regular courtesy is to provide the visiting team with game balls for the training sessions, the Costa Rica FA declined to provide any. So Jurgen Klinsmann's team used their own.
The match is even more anticipated than other recent matches of 'The Ticos' thanks to the feeling of injustice at losing in the blistery conditions. Costa Rican social media has spoken of little else the past few days and a popular national newspaper went with a front page picture of Kilnsmann at the airport with the headline, "Los sentimos Jurgen, No hay nieve" (Sorry Jurgen, There's no snow).
A United States win guarantees at least a play-off with New Zealand for qualification, making this an important as well as controversial match. The States have never won a qualifier in the country, however.
It's snow going to be any easier this time...
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