Weather report in three words for this week’s MLS 2013 opener at Dicks Sporting Goods Park outside Denver: “Snowy and nasty.”
The pictures may be pretty. And who doesn’t get a little perky at the chance to see those tell-tale orange balls broken out of the supply closet?
But there is a meaningful element to consider here, one that supporters beyond Colorado will want to hear about.
DSG Park, two weeks from tonight, will be the sight of a fairly important U.S. national team World Cup qualifier. The margin for error is small here, so any and all mitigating factors deserve to be pinned to the wall, studied and then talked about.
Here’s me pinning this one:
The March 22 opposition is from Costa Rica, of course. Most of the Costa Ricans play professionally in their temperate homeland, where “winter” is just something they talk about in passing. There is no “winter” to speak of in the small Central American nation, which rest just atop Panama.
And it certainly could be cold (and / or snowy) on March 22 in Denver.
Anyone recall the day DSG Park opened? On April 7, 2007 – a bitterly cold and wet day. (FYI, Herculez Gomez, sure to be part of Jurgen Klinsmann team in two weeks, scored the first goal at DSG Park on that day back in 2007. Hmmm. Stick that into your Uncle Sam hat and let it simmer a bit!)
The Ticos do have men who play in Europe. And they have one prominent striker, Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio, who certainly has played a cold weather game or two at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. But generally, they aren’t used to the fluffy stuff, nor to chilling winds.
Meanwhile, start scratching out a list of possible U.S. starters and you’ll arrive quickly at eight or nine who pass and trap in Europe.
On the other hand … if the field conditions deteriorate, that creates a game where fate and fortune are more in play. The United States, sure to be a moderate favorite, doesn’t necessarily need any of that.