Mother Nature 10 – USA 1 – Costa Rica 0: The Blizzard Ballin’ Retro Diary



Will Parchman, Retro Diary Time, grab a beer

I think it only appropriate to open today’s verbal broadcast with a quick shout: Free Boca. #freeboca. Tell your friends.

So I guess we have to talk about Brian Straus’ story, which added a hint of D-Day to an already difficult Costa Rica game. We didn’t need the added difficulty of anonymous sources parachuting behind Klinsmann’s line and planting land mines. After you read the story, did anyone else hear Omar from The Wire in your ear screaming SNITCHES GET STITCHES. No? Just me? I want to pretend, based on his awesome post-story comments, Michael Bradley stomped into the next team meeting with a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, literally beat everybody on the team over the head with it, and then, without speaking a word, solemnly walked out. I’d follow that guy into a Celine Dion concert.

And THEN, even after watching Mikey B douse the snitches in napalm, Klinsmann went after Deuce for the armband. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like he tapped Bornstein to lead this group (I wish this had happened for so, so many reasons), but it has to be Bradley. Bradley could’ve captained this team when he was five. The million-yard stare, the glistening bald head, the mid-interview words lit on fire with the intensity of supergiant Beta Orionis… my man brings the sound and the fury. Great, Deuce has a face that can kind of look weird to Jamaicans sometimes. Bradley is a literal Nazgul.


I’ve just come across the USMNT XI. And… I… what? Is Klinsmann like Joaquin Phoenix at this point? Just growing out a ridiculous beard and blindly groping his way through a really weird off-Broadway performance of “Ernest Goes to Camp?” 4-2-3-1, which I like. But the logistics here are somewhat odd. It’s like a woman slowly taking off her clothes, only to reveal 30 seconds in she’s actually Nick Nolte. Drunk. Demspey in the hole (dig it), Bradley and Jones holding (totally), Cameron at RB (makes a kind of sense), Zusi wide right (fine), Herc wide left (do what now?), DMB at LB (GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL). Last time I saw DMB on the left side, he’d gotten lost on the field at Azteca and was quietly sobbing to a Mexican child that he’d lost Geoff Cameron and needed money for a snow cone. The last time he was at LB? The 2009 disaster at Saprissa. NO BIGS JURGISTANK.

It’s snowing in Colorado. I love that it’s snowing in Colorado. Suck it, Costa Rica. Honduras gives us a swamp. THE USMNT WILDLINGS BRING YOU CENTRAL AMERICANS NORTH OF THE WALL. Keller and Lalas are wearing the pelts of fallen badgers on their heads. I don’t know what to make of this. In normal circumstances, I’d tell you all the US is about ready to get ripped apart down the left flank with Gomez and DMB (shudder) holding in. But it’s snowing. And we all know that one joke that one guy told at a bar that one time about a Costa Rican soccer player played in Colorado snow. Right!?

Enough. Game time. Ian Darke wants to Barry White this game to you. Taylor Twellman can’t believe you’re not wearing a scarf at home. Let’s go.

‘1 – The boys are wearing white in the snow. This is the Fightin’ Waldo uni taken to its next logical conclusion. I’m freaking out over here.

‘2 – I fear all tactical analysis is more or less moot tonight. A lot of hoofing over the top, not much cogent foot-to-foot play. Lot of adventurous play, not much in the way of pretty play, though. We’ll see if that holds. This game is going to be ridiculous and awesome. Just predicting. Which I’m terrible at.

‘3 – Tays: “Jermaine Jones, getting into the attack.” Schalke: awesome idea. USMNT: ITS RAINING FIRE ON US.

‘5 – Half the time I have no idea where the ball is. We need that awesome/terrible FOX hockey puck trail graphic that died like 10 years ago. Actually, never mind. This may just devolve into ridiculous bathroom humor tonight. Stay tuned. Positive: DMB isn’t sobbing yet.

‘7 – The boys have done well early maintaining composure and tactical rigidity. Essential in games like these where squirrely touches can lead to unexpected goals.

‘9 – Beasley is down holding his face. Sobbing jokes aside, that looked rugged. Fascinating yarn now. Does Beasley, easily the last choice in the XI, get pulled? Stays in for now. Edu in at LB soon? Gahhhhhhhgishdgl.

’14 – The midfield is beginning to figure out the snow and its tactical response to it. Bradley is shifting between a deep lying role and one in the early part of the build-up, Jones is taking it from there (looks so much better since his Champions League run for whatever reason) and Dempsey looks as dangerous as ever. If one of these balls squirts through…

’16 – Oh hello Dempsey, our first crack at goal. Not too close as it wheels out but chances like that DEMPSEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY GOAAAAALLLLLLL WHAAAARBLLLLEEES



’17 – Good lord was that a Dempsey goal or what? Seventh qualifier goal for the Nacogdoches Ninja, and how many looked like that? Tons. Altidore took a shot on and Dempsey followed its track perfectly. Call it a Hoover goal if you want. Lacks curb appeal/whatever. Doesn’t matter. Dempsey does it so well. I predicted two Dempsey goals tonight on Twitter. Halfway there.

’19 – Ian Darke just told us all the refs could abandon it if they can’t see the lines. I DARE THEM. Then he snapped off a “The icemen cometh” line. On air. I love this man. Leave me alone, Chris Hansen. You don’t know what we have together.

’21 – Altidore told anyone who’ll listen the last couple months how beneficial AZ has been for his hold-up play. He’s been outstanding on that front tonight.

’22 – Cameron’s terrible giveaway up past midfield (what is he doing up there that early in the buildup?) nearly leads Costa Rica in for a goal. Plus side: they think the snow is the frosting from mini wheats. Clarence Goodson, meanwhile, has been bafflingly great this half. Bafflingly.

’25 – Jermaine Jones is down, looks like a sub needed. Has to be… someone better? Down side: we maybe lose Jonesy. Plus side: No yellows!

’27 – Tays: “Anything goes with the conditions.” All I hear from my wife in the kitchen: “Hah. Your mom goes with the conditions.” Somewhat incomprehensible jokes about things Taylor Twellman says? I love my wife.

’29 – Jones is fine. Meanwhile, Zusi finally figures out there’s a game on and gets near the penalty area before flubbing a cross. As the blizzard intensifies, the lines become more obscure and we all nervously eye the ref. Somebody get a #dontcallit deal going on.

’34 – Gomez has surprisingly done rather well on the left. It’s not his natural spot, but he’s stuck close to the flank and hasn’t collapsed that side of the field. Done exactly as he’s been asked. So many players defy convention and try to figure it out for themselves, but Gomez has been solid.

Screen shot 2013-03-23 at 10.18.52 AM

’36 – How badly does Michael Bradley hate his bald head right now? Jermaine Jones looks like a frosted mini wheat.

’39 – Guzan finally forced into a save. It’s an “easy” one in the sense that it was close to his body, but in the snow nothing’s easy. Credit +1. Been a quiet if nervy night for the Aston Villa man. This has to look like a man of the Black Watch gazing upon an advancing line of White Walkers. I’ve now slipped in two Game of Thrones references before halftime. You nerds better send me an HBO subscription.

’42 – SO MUCH DAMN SNOW. AND YOU MAROONS MISSED A PENALTY. Dempsey just had a penalty kick ignored (of course it was Roy Miller, the Useless Soccer Player). Snow, guys. *Jerry Seinfeld joke ensues*

’45+1 – Saborio just cold cocked Gonzo after a FK. NICE. I’m being sarcastic, guys. That’s internet sarcasm.

HALFTIME – The entire first half was an excerpt from the fourth chapter of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road.’ That is all. It was 105 degrees during Honduras’ 2-2 draw with Mexico in San Pedro Sula earlier today. Meanwhile, Jon Snow joins Kasey Keller and Alexi Lalas in the studio to discuss life north of the wall (that’s three).

Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.10.01 PM

’46 – We’re back! The snow is even thicker, if that’s even possible. Dudes shoveling like they were being swarmed by bees at half. And it’ll all be covered up in another 10 minutes. Solid.

’49 – Roy Miller gets a yellow card. And there wasn’t even a penalty kick involved. Bonus! #RBNYfail

’51 – Altidore gets praise from Tays after a low hard shot flares just wide: “Big, strong and I love it.” ME TOO TAYS. Me too. He’s looked great tonight. Need moar blizzards, God.

’54 – Darke: “I hope you can follow this through the blizzard at home.” HahahaI HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING. WAS THAT GUZAN? GUZAN? I THINK I SAW HOWARD.

’55 – They’re stopping the game? Stopping the game. Choruses of “Let them play” rain down from the stands. Bradley harries the match official. The Costa Rican players even want to play. SEPP BLATTER THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. I think the players just convinced the ref to play. Michael Bradley, thank you.

’56 – I’m blacking out guys. This is crazy. We’ve gone this far. Let’s keep going.

’61 – I can’t see out of the camera. I can’t analyze this game. I CAN make jokes about the White Walkers. I told you guys this night would turn into crap jokes. IT’S NOT MY FAULT. Tactics tonight are useless.

’67 – Yeah I picked a good night to do player ratings for another site. EVERYONE GETS A SIX.

’69 – Is it bad that I saw Ruiz go down by Jones’ hand and I immediately thought Jones probably had like, a sawed-off toothbrush or something in his hand? #AllTheYellows

’70 – FLAG IS UP. FLAG IS UP. How the hell they saw offside on that Costa Rica goal I have no idea. I thought that was Rodney Dangerfield who got in on the header.

’72 – Graham Zusi has been more useless tonight than a SportsClips haircut on David Beckham. THINK ABOUT IT.

’74 – The midfield line scooped out of the snow during down periods has gradually gotten sloppier and sloppier. Pretty sure those guys are sneaking Cuervo shots.

’75 – EJ for Zusi. Tays says “GOOD 75 MINUTES FROM GRAHAM ZUSI AS WELL.” Caps for emphasis mine.

’79 – Match commissioner: GAME WILL BE COMPLETED. Dude, I’d already decided that fact. *Performs Cristiano Ronaldo calm goal celebration*

’81 – You come to TSG for incisive analysis. What you actually get is jokes about snowmen and snow forts and Jose Cuervo and frosted mini-wheats. YOU’RE WELCOME.

’82 – Edu for Jones in holding midfield. Solid move. The frosted mini-wheat leaves the field. Sad times.

’87 – Darke: “How on earth have we got through this?” I don’t know Ian. No idea. *sips beer, adjusts AC to 75* No clue, dude.

’90 – Landon Donovan will emerge from a snow drift for our third sub. With a metal chair and a scowl. Total WWF heel move.

’91 – Geoff Cameron just pushed on the snow clearer. Just upped your match rating a point, bro. #not. Cameron’s by far been the back line’s weak point tonight. Which isn’t a terrible malady in a scoreless performance. So far. No jinxes.

’94 – Beckerman for Gomez is our last sub. Donovan must’ve missed his train.

FINAL – 1-0 in the Blizzard Bowl. Holy what? Did that just happen?

So I’d like to regale you with my dazzling tactical analysis, but here you have to take the three points and you leave. Lalas: “Beautifully ugly.” Yes. Nailed it. On to Mexico City. Boom. What we’re about? Three points. Screw style points. Now about that frosted mini-wheat…

"This place is dead anyway..."

“This place is dead anyway…”

31 responses to this post.

  1. Slow clap. Lots of frost on this mini-wheat.


  2. dry soaking wet uncluttered chaos.This article had was difficult to follow and I get the intention. Both classic. This game followed no reason ever set before, Reminded me of watching the Bears-Eagles play off game in the fog. A classic sparting event that will go down in the ages. You really can;t write about it, You have to have seen it or have been there,


  3. Posted by gino744 on 2013/03/23 at 3:09 AM

    Surreal. I know that word is overused but can’t think of any other way to describe this game. Hey, whatever. Take the 3 points and hope for the best at the Azteca. If the soccer gods are smiling on us, that storm front will make its way to Mexico City by game time on Tuesday.


    • Posted by gino744 on 2013/03/23 at 3:14 AM

      By the by, those white shirts looked great even when I could only track our guys by their blue shorts.


      • Posted by Jared on 2013/03/23 at 5:36 AM

        I was very surprised the US was allowed to play in white shirts. Could barely see them.

        Nike needs to come to an agreement with Adidas so that both can have the orange ball. Yellow doesn’t work in snow.


  4. Posted by WatertownMA on 2013/03/23 at 5:00 AM

    Still somewhat horrified that the game was not abandoned. Ecstatic there were no injuries to key players. Take the 3 points.

    – – – –

    A thought occurred to me after reading Doug McIntyre’s piece with Bruce Arena and the Brian Straus story … Couldn’t Bruce Arena qualify as one of those anonymous individuals close to or having knowledge of the USMNT program? If he was interviewed for the Straus piece, that would place his messaging agenda in the middle of two articles that came out this week.


    • Posted by Jared on 2013/03/23 at 5:37 AM

      Bruce doesn’t seem like the anonymous kind of guy. He has little problem saying unpopular things with his name attached.


    • Posted by boiseaardvark on 2013/03/23 at 9:17 AM

      Brian Straus did travel to Spain.


  5. Posted by CJ on 2013/03/23 at 6:56 AM

    Didn’t the USWNT play in a snow game somewhat similar (maybe worse if I recall correctly) about a year or two ago against, maybe Mexico? I remember thinking it looked like they were playing on a beach the ball died so quickly on long balls.


    • Posted by Fellaini'sFro on 2013/03/23 at 8:25 AM

      Yes they did. In Salt Lake City for a friendly. The snow was actually coming down harder and it was deeper on the field. Besides the obvious questions of the ball sliding around differently on the pitch, does the game change any differently than the pouring rain I have seen BPL matches played in and what we saw last night?

      By the way I thought Jones played lights out, MB90 was a steadying defensive mid, Beasly absolutely shocked me, Gonzalez should be our next steadying CB for the next 10 years, Cameron out in RB got burned more than a few times and Altidore’s hold up play was fantastic. JMHO


  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/23 at 9:16 AM

    In case you missed it last night:


  7. Posted by s44 on 2013/03/23 at 10:43 AM

    The photos from last night are amazing. They look staged for an ad campaign.


  8. Posted by dth on 2013/03/23 at 1:03 PM

    Columbus administering a textbook 4-2-3-1 > 4-4-2 beating to DC United.

    Bring back Boskovic!!!!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/23 at 1:51 PM

      Precisely — and they are sending up Williams every chance they get too.


    • Posted by dth on 2013/03/23 at 2:14 PM

      Pajoy has a remarkable ability to never be onside. Not even by accident.

      Hopefully this game serves as a tactical wakeup call to Olsen.


      • Posted by mbw on 2013/03/23 at 2:47 PM

        Agree, though his options are more constrained than they ought to be as a consequence of the front office’s uninspired performance.


  9. Posted by KickinNames... on 2013/03/23 at 2:02 PM

    I don’t remember anyting you just said except “frosted mini wheats”….
    and “performs CR goal celebration”…….and that’s just going to have to be enough for now.


  10. Posted by Nick on 2013/03/23 at 9:46 PM

    My favorite part of the USMNT Post-Game is this write-up.


  11. Posted by EvertonBrian on 2013/03/24 at 4:41 AM

    *Performs Cristiano Ronaldo calm goal celebration*


  12. Posted by RP on 2013/03/24 at 8:26 AM

    Great commentary.. Def enjoy the random dream of thought and how you hit on things I was thinking but no one in the media addresses.

    Can anyone tell me (other than home fieldvadvantage reasons) why they didn’t break out the snow mobile before the game and at halftime and completely clear the field? Woulda made a huge difference.


  13. Posted by BostonCougar on 2013/03/24 at 1:43 PM

    If it gets us 3 points, I’ll play every tropical latin team in the snow. Why do people hate playing Green Bay in late December? The frozen tundra. USA! USA!


  14. Posted by scweeb on 2013/03/24 at 5:14 PM

    • Posted by Jared on 2013/03/24 at 6:29 PM

      Is there even a competition at this point? Mexico has a youth system and policy while the US does not. Youth players are either within MLS or have gone abroad. MLS has only really started on a youth program. If it hasn’t changed in 5 or 10 years then we have a problem.


    • Posted by dth on 2013/03/24 at 9:38 PM

      Mexico has a better system, but the article’s evidence is silly. If Mexico was that much better — and I disagree it was (the U.S. should have had a couple of penalties in the game) — that’s mostly explicable to two factors unrelated to youth system development: a) they were playing in Mexico and b) the U.S.’s best players had: jetted back to the U.S.; been injured; or never been called up (for various reasons).

      U.S. started (I think): Cropper; Ocegueda, Stanko, O’Neill, Serna; Lopez, Trapp, Joya; Villarreal, Garcia, Rodriguez. (no subs available)

      U.S.’s best lineup (may be something like when healthy): Cropper; Ocegueda, Brooks, Packwood, Yedlin; Lopez, Gil, Joya; Pelosi, Rodriguez, Villarreal

      BREAKING: a team looks markedly inferior when missing 6 of its best starters! TELL ME MORE, SCHAERLAECKENS.


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/03/25 at 6:00 AM

        Having our best performer of the tournament (Cuevas) would have been nice, too.


      • Posted by mbw on 2013/03/25 at 7:16 AM

        There’s a nice irony here, which is that Mexico might have been out of that game but for the performance of their US academy-trained GK.


    • Posted by dth on 2013/03/25 at 9:49 PM

      By the way, if you’d like to see MLS youth team in action, here’s LA Galaxy playing Eintracht Frankfurt (from a couple days ago):

      They actually look pretty solid here. I don’t this is the average MLS academy team, but if it were we’d be in pretty encouraging shape.


  15. Hey guys, general question and totally off-topic, but this is a pretty sharp group, so thought I’d ask. I’ve been concertedly trying to follow MLS more closely this year (have sort of followed from afar in the past but now trying to do my American duty and stop being such a Euro-snob). What’s the reasoning for MLS not respecting the WCQ calendar and playing matches this weekend? Isn’t it better all-around for the league if they play more matches with the best players (who are presumably on national team duty)?


  16. […] With Straus’ article swirling, mixed in with the blizzard conditions in Denver, the U.S. rallied to defeat Costa Rica in the snow on March 22. Though some tried to extract meaningful exchanges from the game itself (like your humble idiot here), it’s best to go back and remember that some (like your humble idiot here) had proffered a #freeboca hashtag before this game. […]


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