Clint Dempsey's first-half goal lifted the United States to a gutsy 1-0 win over Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying at a snowy Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
After suffering a 2-1 defeat to Honduras to open the Hexagonal round of qualifying on Feb. 6, Dempsey's lone tally in the 16th minute made sure the United States bounced back by claiming a crucial three points in horrendous conditions on a snow-covered pitch.
Leading up to the match, much attention was given to the goalkeeping situation with Aston Villa's Brad Guzan filling in for an injured Tim Howard, as well as how a relatively inexperienced back four of Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, DaMarcus Beasley and Clarence Goodson would perform.
Luckily for the Red, White and Blue, the backline remained in control for most of the match and the hosts found a breakthrough with a bit of luck when Jozy Altidore ripped a shot on goal that took a wicked deflection and fell to the feet of Dempsey, who easily deposited it into the net for his seventh goal during qualifying.
Costa Rica began to gain confidence late in the first half and had a few chances, but the U.S. took its slim lead into the intermission, holding 62 percent of possession and ripping four shots in the direction of goal over the first 45 minutes.
After the interval, the blizzard conditions continued to worsen and the match was stopped in the 55th minute, but referee Joel Aguilar conferred with players from both sides and the game was back on after just a short delay.
Once play resumed, it was Costa Rica that was on the front foot for much of the second half. The visitors had several chances, including two free kicks from just outside the U.S. penalty area late on, but could never find an equalizing goal as the Americans held on through five minutes of stoppage time to earn three important points.
The result moves the United States up to second place in the group with three points from two matches, while Costa Rica remains on one point from a pair of matches.
The United States improved to 21-0-2 in its last 23 home World Cup qualifiers, and will next tangle with Mexico at the Azteca Stadium on Tuesday.
Elsewhere in CONCACAF qualifying on Friday, Javier Hernandez scored a first half brace, but Carlos Costly and Jerry Bengtson answered in the second period as Mexico and Honduras battled to a 2-2 draw, while Marvin Elliot and Luis Henriquez exchanged goals in a 1-1 stalemate between Jamaica and Panama.