Costa Rica v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Where does Friday’s snowy, remarkable U.S. win rank among most memorable qualifiers ever?

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Before we move on from Friday’s amazing scenes outside Denver, turning everyone’s attention to what’s ahead in Tuesday’s friendly against Mexico as the U.S. march to Brazil 2014 continues, let’s spend just a few more minutes considering the unforgettable, snowy scenes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Specifically, where does the United States’ 1-0 win over Costa Rica that played out so remarkably in a blizzard outside Denver rank among the most memorable U.S. World Cup qualifiers?

For the drama of the moment, but mostly for the novelty and for the aesthetic of the awesome pictures coming out of DSG Park, this was undoubtedly among the most unforgettable U.S. World Cup qualifiers ever.

The Top Five in my mind:

5. U.S. – Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain, 1989: The soccer historians will tell you this one mattered more than any others in the big picture. Paul Caligiuri scored the afternoon’s only goal in a 1-0 win (perhaps the most famous goal in U.S. national team history) that secured passage to World Cup 1990 in Italy. Without the goal, the United States’ role as hosts five years later may have been subject to even more worldwide mock and scorn than it was. That appearance (made possible that win in Port of Spain, helped validate the growing U.S. place in global soccer.

4. U.S. – Costa Rica in Portland, 1997: U.S. midfielder Tab Ramos scored the only goal in a monumental U.S. achievement over Costa Rica, a 1-0 victory that Steve Sampson’s team needed desperately to keep the drive alive for France ’98. But it wasn’t just the result that mattered, it was the absolutely brilliant, stirring atmosphere in downtown Portland. American soccer grew up a little bit that day, and wonderfully so.

3. U.S. – El Salvador in New England, 2001: An odd one, because so few people actually saw it. The United States had lost three qualifiers in a row, and chances of passage into World Cup 2002 in Asia were nearly on the skids. Bruce Arena’s team clawed out the needed result (2-1 over Jamaica), but that’s not what makes this one so memorable, again, in an odd way. All networks preempted programming as the Afghan War began that day when U.S. aircraft began attacks.

2. U.S. – Costa Rica in Denver, 2013: The yellow ball was out (better seen against the fluffy white background that framed the pictures and made this match such a unique spectacle. And a lovely one – for anyone watching this surreal scene unfold from the comfy warmth of their living room, at least. The cascading drama around the U.S. side made Friday’s contest meaningful, never mind the meteorological mayhem.

1. U.S. – Mexico in Columbus, 2001: Truly, in a place where “meaningful” meets “memorable” in terms of U.S. qualifier moments, this will continue to be the gold standard for years and years to come. The original La Guerra Fria was as significant in that it began a period of U.S. dominance in the border series with Mexico – and because it was so darned infuriating to the opponents, a match set in bitterly cold Columbus expressly to create maximum discomfort for the Mexicans.

(MORE: Some of the beautifully snowy scenes from DSG Park)

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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