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USA face outrage from Honduras over making them to play in -19C weather in Minnesota

The United States beat Honduras 3-0 in their World Cup qualifying game on Wednesday as temperatures dropped to -2F in the  Minnesota outdoor stadium, with the rival team bashing the decision to play in the freezing weather as ‘inconceivable’ while the American team defended their victory.   

The visitors were enraged over the choice of venue and the chilling conditions – with two players forced off at half-time with hypothermia and others requiring IV drips to recover. 

As the hosts, the US were able to choose the stadium for the game and picked Minnesota’s Allianz Field – a new venue opened just three years ago, but facing sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest winter.

The wind chill was -8F at kick-off, making it the coldest U.S. home game in the team’s history. It was enough to freeze a wet t-shirt pitchside on TV coverage and players wore protective clothing.

U.S. Soccer had chosen Minnesota not only to limit the team’s travel time – having previously played in Columbus, Ohio and Ontario, Canada – but also to secure an advantage.  

Canada had used the same tactic in November to beat Mexico, and the U.S. famously did the same in the March 2013 ‘Snowclassico,’ where the U.S. beat Mexico 1-0 in Denver, Colorado, where players celebrated in the snow. 

However, both those games were played at 29F, much warmer than the -2F in the game against Honduras. The players for the Central American country have enjoyed 85F weather this week. 

Honduras and the US have played 28 games together since 1965, with the Central American team winning 20 of the games. Three were draws. 

‘Obviously the [U.S. Soccer] federation tried to pick the best places for us to have an advantage over our opponent,’ U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie, told the Star Tribune

‘Whether that’s the weather, whether that’s the fan base, whether that’s a lot of things. Our players are more used to playing in colder weather than Honduran players.’ 

USA defender Walker Zimmerman – who netted the second goal of the night – believes Honduras was simply not up for the game in the freezing temperatures and it helped them take control of the game.  

‘I don’t think they wanted any part of that tonight,’ he said. ‘You could just tell coming out for warm ups, their starting 11 not coming out right after the half.

On the eve of the game, where temperatures were at 3F, the Honduras team was seen going to practice without any hats or heavy coats on, and they appeared just as ill-equipped hours before the game, with only a few players seen wearing hats in the frigid temperatures. 

It is not known why the team did not appear prepared for the cold. The team did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.  

Ahead of kick-off, Honduras head coach Hernan Dario Gomez said: ‘It’s inconceivable that a power in every sense would bring you here to play a game and get a result. The game hasn’t started, but I can’t wait for it to end. Because it’s not for enjoying, it’s for suffering.’ 

The Honduras team was seen dressed lightly for the cold weather the day before the match, with some members not even wearing hats or leg warmers while walking to practice

USA beat Honduras in -19C temperatures at the Allianz Field in St Paul, Minnesota - with some fans and players suffering more from the cold than others

USA beat Honduras in -19C temperatures at the Allianz Field in St Paul, Minnesota – with some fans and players suffering more from the cold than others

Fans wrapped up against the cold - but Honduras' players, used to 86F heat, suffered badly

Fans wrapped up against the cold – but Honduras’ players, used to 86F heat, suffered badly

TV pundits showed off just how cold it was in Minnesota - with a frozen t-shirt shown pitchside

TV pundits showed off just how cold it was in Minnesota – with a frozen t-shirt shown pitchside

United States emerged victorious but their players struggled. Arsenal-bound Matt Turner (pictured) was allowed to wear a head covering and a muff around his waist. He said his boogers were frozen due to the cold

United States emerged victorious but their players struggled. Arsenal-bound Matt Turner (pictured) was allowed to wear a head covering and a muff around his waist. He said his boogers were frozen due to the cold

US star Tim Weah said he was 'retiring' the next time his side played in the same conditions

US star Tim Weah said he was ‘retiring’ the next time his side played in the same conditions

The team was fully aware that the temperatures on Wednesday would dip to negative degrees

The team was fully aware that the temperatures on Wednesday would dip to negative degrees

Gomez led the protests – even before the game – slamming the decision to host the game in Minnesota. He said that it was ‘not normal’ that his players, used to temperatures reaching 86F in their country this week, should have to play in a different location. 

But there was no chance of the game being called off – as the USA went cruised into a 2-0 lead at the break. Gomez then had to withdraw goalkeeper Luis Lopez and forward Romell Quioto, both understood to be suffering with hypothermia.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic added a third to compound Honduras’ woes – but the real pain that was inflicted was in the dressing room at full time, with some members of Gomez’ side needing an IV drip. It prompted a furious response from the coach.

‘Soccer shouldn’t be endured this way. I’ve got all my players getting treatment, some players getting an IV,’ he vented. 

Zimmerman said, ‘As soon as we got that first goal, and especially the second goal, we felt like we were in really good form and in control of the game.’ 

As he reveled in the cheer of the crowd following the game, Zimmer said: ‘We said in the locker room before the game that it was going to be memorable, that it was going to be iconic, but not because of the weather, but because of our intensity, our motivation to play well. Guys came out and we really handed it to them. I’m so proud of the group.’  

But some of Zimmerman’s team-mates admitted they had struggled in the bitingly cold conditions, with forward Tim Weah joking he would ‘retire’ if he had to play in the same weather again, posting a meme of a frozen man.

And keeper Matt Turner – who is set to sign for Arsenal – posted the same meme, writing: ‘mood’.

As he walked off the field at the end of the game, Turner simply said, ‘My boogers are frozen.’ 

Honduras struggled to adapt to freezing -19 temperatures in their 3-0 loss to the United States

Honduras struggled to adapt to freezing -2 temperatures in their 3-0 loss to the United States

Fans were provided with hand warmers but had to rely on wrapping up warm themselves

Fans were provided with hand warmers but had to rely on wrapping up warm themselves

But USA coach Gregg Berhalter defended the decision to play the game in Minnesota – pointing out that his own side have travelled to sweltering countries and have suffered various issues from the heat. 

‘When we go down to those countries and it’s 90 degrees and 90 per cent dew point and it’s unbearable humidity and guys are getting dehydrated and cramping up and getting heat exhaustion, that’s the nature of our competition,’ he said.  

‘When we schedule this game in this location, you have to go by average temperatures, daily average temperatures, and it was the best guess.

‘We want to minimize travel. We knew we’re gonna be playing in cold weather in two of the games and we figured to do it in the third game as well, instead of switching climates.

‘The cold spell came through and it’s something we can’t control but all we can do once that happens is try to mitigate the risk by having warm weather gear and going out there and competing and we did that.’  

Berhalter told the Star Tribune that playing in the cold was a common tactic to help the U.S. team, which is based in Chicago and regularly trains in Canada, gain a homefield advantage against Central and South American teams.

‘They’re all coming from the equator, and it’s going to be really difficult for them to deal with these conditions,’ he said. ‘They’re going to take a couple of breaths and it’s going to hit them like it never hit them before.’  

Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez hit out at the decision to host the game in Minnesota

Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez hit out at the decision to host the game in Minnesota

USA coach Gregg Berhalter, dressed in a heavy winter coat, defended the call and had said the cold weather favors the US team, which regularly practices in Canada

USA coach Gregg Berhalter, dressed in a heavy winter coat, defended the call and had said the cold weather favors the US team, which regularly practices in Canada

All players on the pitch were allowed to wear snoods and as many body layers as possible

All players on the pitch were allowed to wear snoods and as many body layers as possible 

Gomez said his players endured hypothermia after the game, with others needing an IV drip

Gomez said his players endured hypothermia after the game, with others needing an IV drip

Fans still enjoyed themselves after 19,000 supporters ensured a sellout crowd for the match, despite the -19 temperatures

Fans still enjoyed themselves after 19,000 supporters ensured a sellout crowd for the match, despite the -19 temperatures. United States emerged victorious but their players struggled. Arsenal-bound Matt Turner (pictured) was allowed to wear a head covering and a muff around his waist

Over 3,600 flights within the US are set to be canceled as the country deals with snow, sleet and freezing rain from a powerful winter storm that has closed schools and led multiple governors to declare states of emergency.

On Wednesday, there were nearly 3,500 delays and 2,365 cancellations across the country, with airports in the Midwest being hit particularly hard.

The governors of Kentucky and Missouri have declared a state of emergency, while Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster declaration. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul directed state agencies to prepare emergency plans before the storm hits the state on Thursday.


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