The United States is a country subject to some extremes of weather and, as we all saw just a few hours ago, soccer is not a sport in which games get called off at the drop of a hat. The combination of those two facts can have some interesting results. Here are some of the extremes that American soccer has had to endure:
---Cold: The most famous cold game is La Guerra Fria, the World Cup qualifier between the United States and Mexico played in 28-degree weather in Columbus, Ohio, in February 2001, but that one's not the most agonizingly cold. That designation has to go to the NCAA championship game between Virginia and Santa Clara in Piscataway, N.J., in December 1989. The temperature was 21, which was the easy part. The wind chill was 10 below zero and the torture went on for four overtimes before officials gave up and declared the two frozen teams co-champions.
---Heat: The United States was hit by a heat wave during the first two weeks of the 1994 World Cup, in mid-June. Particularly affected were games in Dallas; Orlando, Fla.; and Pasadena, Calif., with temperatures that topped 115 at several of them. Many visiting European fans complained loudly, but the reason why the games were being played under the mid-afternoon sun in the first place was so that they would be in prime time for European televison.
---Wind: A friendly between the United States and Uruguay at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in March 1995 was ended about five minutes early because of sudden whirlwinds that began whipping objects around and threatening the possibility of much worse. That worse never happened, but Texas in the spring is not a place to take chances with sudden high winds.
---Rain: It's hard to top the 1996 MLS final, with the Los Angeles Galaxy and D.C. United playing in a torrential nor'easter in Foxboro, Mass., in front of 34,643 spectators, each of whom should get a medal (a waterproof one). My own enduring mental image from that game (which I watched on TV in my dry living room in Philadelphia) is Los Angeles' Eduardo Hurtado body surfing through a large puddle after scoring the first goal.
---Snow: Worse than last night? That's a tall order, but maybe... On Nov. 27, 1971, Hartwick played Cornell in an NCAA tournament game in Oneonta, N.Y., two days after a famous Thanksgiving blizzard. Soccer has long been taken very seriously at Hartwick, so coach Al Miller found students and townspeople eager to work late into the night clearing more than 20 inches of snow off of Elmore Field so that the game could be played (when multiplied by the size of a soccer field, 20 inches of snow probably weighs more than 500 tons).
---Fog: In November 2002, a water-logged field and rising temperatures combined to create a fog bank that made the field invisible to most spectators during the first half of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup final in Pasadena, Calif. Both the United States and Canada had already clinched World Cup berths by winning their semifinals. If a World Cup place had been at stake in this game, maybe officials would have postponed it.
---Ice: In January 1914, Bethlehem Steel and West Hudson AA played an American Football Association Cup quarterfinal in Harrison, N.J., in a ridiculously severe ice, snow and sleet storm. The referee halted the game 20 minutes into the second half because the lines were obliterated and the players so covered with mud that they couldn't be told apart.
That American soccer is accustomed to coping with things of this sort is epitomized by the matter-of-fact tone of a comment in the Bethlehem, Pa., newspaper about a January 1916 game. It said that the field was frozen solid but was in good condition.