Fanshawe FC: Nature rules pitch

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U.S. Captain Clint Dempsey battles through snow and a defender to eventually score the only goal of the Snow Bowl in Denver.

The United States men's national team took on Costa Rica at home in late March during a routine World Cup qualifying game, but the match was anything but routine.

Snow was a big factor at the match in Denver. The referees were given the go-ahead to play the game as planned, with snow constantly covering the pitch. The U.S. won 1-0 off of a sloppy goal in front of the net. A few days later, Costa Rica decided to protest the game.

Costa Rica's coach Jorge Luis Pinto said the match was an “embarrassment to football,” and then threw in the formal protest that the game shouldn't have been played. However, at the time both teams agreed to play. Nice try, Jorge. Although the game was greatly affected by the snow that was on the pitch, it was a doubleedged sword. Can't see the field markings? Play narrower. Can't pass the ball through the snow? Kick lob balls. There were ways to play around the snow, for both teams.

That's where the weather argument comes into play. Costa Rica doesn't see much snow; I think that's a fair argument. They are at a disadvantage playing with elements they are unfamiliar with. However, that is exactly what Central American teams have been doing to the American and Canadian teams for years: playing at high altitude, fans intimidating players and not offering teams safer surroundings. Now that Denver (one of the highest altitude cities in the U.S.) has a soccer stadium (the aptly named Dick's Sporting Goods Park), they can at least try these teams in unfavorable conditions. It just turns out that Denver is also known for its cold weather.

Costa Rica does have a point, however; as they argue, the Northern Irish called off their game against Russia on the same day in Belfast because of snowy conditions. Then again, the loss put them temporarily at the bottom of the table, so they might as well argue.

This is the final stage of World Cup qualifiers in the North American region, with the top six teams playing each other in the appropriately named ‘Hex.' Costa Rica still has a great chance. They are barely a quarter of the way through their games, as the top three make the World Cup automatically (the fourth team will play New Zealand, Oceania's winner, for another chance to make the finals). They are alongside Honduras, the U.S., Mexico, Jamaica and Panama.

This being a nature issue and all, maybe we should all think of how Mother Nature affects sports. Sometimes it's time off; sometimes it's a controversial victory. Whatever the end result of the protest, the game happened due to natural causes. It's hard to feel bad for the Costa Ricans who seem to have snow fun at all.