In view of all the confusion in the booth last night, apparently nobody from USSF could stop glomming on to free stuff from the vendors and loading up plates at the buffet tables long enough to offer some actual technical assistance to the poor schmoes in the booth. (Ian Darke seemed to have the right idea but everybody seemed to want to argue with him)
Of course that would require being familiar with FIFA's competition rules and boring stuff like that, something which is apparently beneath their dignity and would take time away from making dinner reservations and texting their friends about how drunk they are.
So for our great good friends from Soccer House, in case they're ever again required to, you know, actually KNOW something about soccer competitions, here's the dealeo:
Up until the whistle is blown to start play, the CONCACAF representative on site, AKA The Commissioner (and did you know that they have an actual formal training program in Zurich which you have to take in order to qualify for the job?) has the authority to pull the plug on the match. The decision is his alone.
However, AFTER play has begun the sole authority in terms of whether the conditions are acceptable is the referee. It's his pitch and he answers to no one, which is as it should be.
In any case, what's the commissioner going to do while play is going on - leave his comfy box, trot down to the touchline, yell "Yoo hoo, Mr. Referee guy!" and order him to blow his whistle?
Furthermore, while everyone was full of admiration and respect for referee Joel Aguilar for holding an impromptu conference around minute 55 and asking for everyone's input on whether to keep going, that's apparently not what happened.
Reportedly, all he did was suspend play for a few moments so that a couple of the lines could be shoveled.
(I admit it did appear to me that, based on his gestures seen from the vantage point of my Barcalounger 2000 miles away, Aguilar was ordering everyone to the locker rooms and they talked him out of it. Again, this is a point that someone on the sideline, instead of huddling in a loge with a cup of hot coffee next to the Nike rep could have cleared up on the spot.)
In any case, it was unfortunate and forgivable that nobody doing the broadcast had any idea what the procedure would be if the match was called. They're just talking heads.
What's not at all forgivable is that USSF apparently didn't know either.
In another of the seemingly unending list of reasons why Twitter should not be used as an official, semi-official or even ad hoc outlet for information, I give you the fed, mid-game last night:
U.S. Soccer @ussoccer 15m Note: If the game were to be stopped/postponed, it would be resumed with the same score and at the same minute.
Well, that's nice. USSF spends a few million bucks hiring toadies to fetch coffee and pound out Tweets but didn't think to ask anybody to bother learning the rules, which are available to all and sundry online at this location.
Perhaps in the future instead of calling it "Regulations: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil" they instead titled it "How to get one of those nicer offices at the end of the hall" someone at USSF would actually have read it.
For their benefit, the relevant paragraph is found on page 28 in the section headed "Preliminary Competitions" (ie. Qualifiers):
7. If a match is interrupted before the completion of normal playing time or extra time because of extreme weather or for reasons outside the control of the host association, a full-length replay lasting 90 minutes shall be arranged for the following day, thus avoiding considerable extra expense for the visiting association
Now it's nice that the "Match Commissioner" hasn't read the damned thing either and therefore figured that he could make it all up as he went along, but who really expects CONCACAF to send someone who actually has a clue?
(Up until recently, one of the key CONCACAF Game Delegates was Jason Sylvester, who is one of the two people Jack Warner "delegated" to hand out envelopes full of US $100 bills to FIFA voters.
Guys like Sylvester aren't hired due to their integrity, professionalism and attention to detail; they get and keep the job due to blind loyalty to whoever is in charge.)
It's simply inexcusable that out of the horde of Federation employees who got free travel, tickets and fine dining on the cuff in Denver, not one of them knew the rules.
And the final joke was when, sometime around minute 80, the boys with the mikes announced that "the commissioner" had decided that the game would not be stopped. It should have been a punchline instead of being treated like an official decision.
All of that aside - Sunil Gulati answers to no man, now that he doesn't have to call Jack Warner every morning and ask permission to go to the can - news reports this morning have a "furious" Costa Rica Federation screaming bloody murder:
Coach Jorge Luis Pinto said the game "was an embarrassment to football, disrespectful to the game" and that the "legal conditions" for playing the match were not met.
Midfielder Cristian Bolanos, who plays for FC Copenhagen, told reporters:
"Honestly, it was robbery, a disgrace, I've never played a game in these conditions.
"You couldn't see the ball ... if we had played without snow, we would have won, I am sure"
Which sounds unfortunately like sour grapes; if they had won, I doubt very much if his reaction would have been the same.
Be that as it may, an unnamed "Costa Rican Federation official" told reporters in the locker room that they would be filing an official appeal with FIFA on Saturday morning while the teams were still in town and available for a rematch.
I wish him luck, but he's not going to have any. The game wisely confers the responsibility for these things onto their man on the field, the guy with the whistle.
If he, standing there with the snow falling on his head like everybody else, felt it was safe to continue, nobody in Zurich is going to over rule him.
Bottom line, it snowed on everybody. Dempsey scored a sort of flukey ricochet one could even call a junkball if one was so inclined (I myself am not, but feel free) but the main reason he was able to do it was because three Costa Rica defenders chased the ball and left him wide open.
That wasn't the weather, it was simply a bad mistake on their part. Old man Winter had nothing to do with it.