Jermaine Jones and his snow-Afro might be my favorite soccer picture in quite some time. Yes, the sport isn’t exactly made to be played on snow and in general harsh conditions, but taking advantage of the weather isn’t something the United States team should be ashamed about or criticized. Costa Rica knew what they were heading into, agreed to play, and have no use or right to complain now.
If teams around Europe move some of their home matches against superior teams to grounds where there’s barely any grass or footballing conditions, regardless of the weather, just to make life harder on the opposition (like Romania did to the Netherlands in their Euro 2008 qualifiers win), it’s alright for the USA to take a Central American team to the snowy Colorado mountains and have their way with them.
It might not be the recipe for the best football, but just like those trying to argue against Barcelona fans – the sport isn’t just for those who want to see Tiki-Taka brand of football, or for it to only be played at the best of conditions. Teams that have played at the Faroe Islands, even during August or September, can tell stories about how the wind completely changes the way the game is played. And they live through it, and UEFA doesn’t cancel matches, and even if someone complains, it’s shot down and buried.
Yes, this sport is for the rugged, at times. If it was impossible to see the lines or the Costa Rica players would have refused to play and/or the referee would have declared the pitch unfit, maybe we’d be talking differently. But results can’t be cancelled unless there was some wrongdoing – cheating of some sort. This wasn’t the case. Maybe it was a wrong decision by the officials (not in my opinion), but after FIFA and UEFA spend so much time in protecting their referees from the terrible mistakes they make on the pitch, CONCACAF shouldn’t allow anything to be changed about a memorable match in the snow.