In looking back at 2013, we polled the ColoradoRapids.com staff and asked them to pick their top five Colorado soccer moments of the year. #5 - Awards and Recognition; #4 - Victory in Montreal; #3 - Rout of the Sounders; #2 - Winning the Rocky Mountain Cup.
For as many positive moments that we can take away from the Colorado Rapids' 2013 season, it was a match played by two other teams at Dick's Sporting Goods Park that will forever be remembered - be it here in Colorado or anywhere in the country. Coming in as the Top Moment of 2013 is the infamous SnowClasico on March 22, in which the U.S. Men's National Team defeated Costa Rica amidst blizzard conditions.
Let's rewind a bit, to set the scene.
On January 15 U.S. Soccer Federation announced that Dick's Sporting Goods Park would host the first of five home matches for the final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The decision raised some eyebrows around the country, with some media and fans outside of Colorado questioning the decision to bring such a high-importance match to the home of the Rapids. That chatter didn't last long after the match sold out in less than an hour after tickets went on sale to the public.
However the Hexagonal round started on the wrong foot for the USMNT. The team lost its first match in Honduras in February. By the time the team was set to travel to Colorado, the injury bug had spread all over the squad.
- Commentary: SnowClasico is one for the ages
- Match Recap / Highlights: USMNT 1, Costa Rica 0
- USMNT player tweet reaction to amazing Denver crowd
- Record crowd for international match
- US endures whitewash for crucial WCQ win
From U.S. Soccer's announcement: eight players were unavailable: Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Timmy Chandler (hamstring), Steve Cherundolo (knee), Tim Howard (back), Fabian Johnson (hip), Jonathan Spector (ankle), Jose Torres (hamstring) and Danny Williams (illness).
Add that star attacker Landon Donovan was on his self-imposed hiatus, and Carlos Bocanegra was not playing, and the must-win match in Denver would have to be won by a mix of reserves, newcomers, and some experienced veterans.
Then, as the team began gathering in Denver, a controversial Sporting News article raised questions of in-house issues within the US side.
And then came the game.
The snow started coming down about an hour before kickoff, but it didn't keep anyone away. The stands were full by kickoff, and the atmosphere was electric when Clint Dempsey gave the U.S. the lead after 15 minutes.
The snow was relentless - to the point that the officials temporarily stopped the match in the second half to determine if the game should continue.
With the crowd cheering 'Let them play,' and dozens of staffers working tirelessly to clear the snow, and US coach Jurgen Klinsmann pleading his case, the match went on.
The U.S. held on to a 1-0 win - the first of the final round of qualifying on the way to winning the group and advancing to their seventh consecutive World Cup.
Costa Rica attempted to file a protest with FIFA to replay the match - only to see the protest disallowed.
An international match record crowd of 19,374 attended the game. But millions more around the country saw the tremondous support the fans in Colorado gave the U.S. team.