World Cup Qualifier – Costa Rica at U.S. Men’s National Team

I was so excited about shooting this match.  I had shot the U.S. Women’s National team last year, but it was in a friendly match after the Olympics.  This Men’s National Team vs Costa Rica was an important game, one of the qualifiers for the World Cup.  I went by Dick’s Sporting Goods Field on Wednesday to pick up my credentials and parking pass for Friday’s game.  I was getting so stoked for the match.

Then Friday came.  I was fully expecting some snowfall.  The news predicted it.  I drove from Arvada to Commerce City, and a few snow flakes were falling on the way, but it was nothing too bad.  I got to the stadium and I headed down to the photographers workroom, unpacked my gear and started working on my code replacement files for the game.  The media room opened 3 hours before the match started, so I had plenty of time to kill in the media room.  Hector, from Zuma Press, was sitting next to me with his assistant (why do I not have an assistant like his??)  I chatted with one of the DC United team photographers who has covered Chugiak High School’s Kelly Cobb during her first couple seasons at Duke, and then I headed out to check the field and shooting locations….

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - The Colorado Rapids grounds crew clear the field of snow prior to the start of action in the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – The Colorado Rapids grounds crew clear the field of snow prior to the start of action in the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

While I was in the photo workroom it started to really snow hard.  I would guess a couple inches fell, and the snow was building up on the field pretty good.  The Dick’s Sporting Goods grounds crew for the Colorado Rapids leapt to action.  Two plows, a bunch of snow shovels, it was crazy.  In the picture above, they are cleaning off the field while the U.S. MNT goalkeepers warm up before the game.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - U.S. National Soccer forward Herculez Gomez (9) brings the ball up the field during first half action in the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – U.S. National Soccer forward Herculez Gomez (9) brings the ball up the field during first half action in the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

It was real cold out too.  The wind was blowing hard, it was hard enough tracking focus with the falling snow, but the cold was starting to numb my fingers, even wearing my Iditarod gloves, it was cold.  But Team USA was able to fight through the cold and snow and Clint Dempsey found the back of the net to give the US a 1-0 lead over Costa Rica who may have never seen snow before, let alone play in it.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - U.S. National Soccer forward Clint Dempsey (8) tries to find a way past Costa Rica National Soccer defender Christian Gamboa (2) in first half action of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – U.S. National Soccer forward Clint Dempsey (8) tries to find a way past Costa Rica National Soccer defender Christian Gamboa (2) in first half action of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

After about 20 minutes of game play, I had to go inside.  I could not feel the shutter button.  So, I headed into the Photo Workroom to warm up and download my photos and send them off to NewSport.  When I was warmed up I headed back out for the second half.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - As the snow falls harder, U.S. National Soccer defender Omar Gonzalez (3) attempts to clear the ball out of the goal box during the second half of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – As the snow falls harder, U.S. National Soccer defender Omar Gonzalez (3) attempts to clear the ball out of the goal box during the second half of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

It felt lie it had warmed up some, but in warming up, the snow started to come down even harder.  Now focusing was getting all but impossible.  Snow was blowing and building up inside my lens hood, getting on my lens filter, and just making things difficult.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - U.S. National Soccer defender Geoff Cameron (20) heads the ball away in second half action of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – U.S. National Soccer defender Geoff Cameron (20) heads the ball away in second half action of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

At one point the officials stopped the game and were going to call it because of the conditions, but with a lot of pleading, the game continued, but I was pretty much done.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - U.S. National Soccer goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) tries to keep track of the ball on the other end of the field through the snow during the second half of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – U.S. National Soccer goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) tries to keep track of the ball on the other end of the field through the snow during the second half of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

I was so looking forward to this game, but the conditions…I have shot 5 Iditarods, and the snow and cold were worse here in Colorado than I had shot in during my time in Alaska.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - A heavy snow storm hit during the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – A heavy snow storm hit during the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

Costa Rica has officially protested the game with FIFA, but I have a feeling their protest will be denied.  I have seen games played in all sorts of weather, and both teams did a great job in these conditions.

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO - Costa Rica National Soccer midfielder Michael Barrantes (11) dribbles the ball up the field during the second half of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men's National Team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

March 22nd, 2013 Commerce City, CO – Costa Rica National Soccer midfielder Michael Barrantes (11) dribbles the ball up the field during the second half of the World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and the USA Men’s National Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO

The U.S. MNT won the game, 1-0 over Costa Rica.  These photos are available through NewSport and Corbis for media use only.

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