Jürgen Klinsmann's USA clinched three vital World Cup qualifying points against a spirited Costa Rica and a blizzard.
Clint Dempsey scored the only goal of the game in the relatively playable conditions of the first half in Colorado. Relatively that is. The weather conditions could possibly have been described as merely heavy snow in the first half but by the second half it was a full-on blizzard. Play was even briefly halted but, credit to the resilience of both teams, resumed despite several inches of snow on the ground.
Shovels and snowploughs were used to clear snow from the lines and a not easily visible yellow-and-purple ball was used. After the stoppage the snow increased and the players' hair turned white as snow stuck along their scalps.
"It was difficult out here to see anything," Dempsey said. "We were able to come together when we needed to."
Dempsey became captain when Carlos Bocanegra was dropped because of inaction in Spain and Howard broke two bones in his back. He scored after Jozy Altidore's shot from outside the area deflected off Roy Miller. The ball bounced toward Dempsey, whose right-footed shot from in front was his seventh goal in qualification matches for Brazil. It was Dempsey's 32nd goal in 92 international appearances.
In the absence of Howard, Aston Villa's Brad Guzan acquitted himself well, although the ball did get past him in the 70th minute, only for Costa Rica's Joel Campbell to be correctly ruled offside. Given the blizzard conditions, swirling snow and USA's white jerseys it was a smart piece of linesmanship.
After defeat in Honduras, USA started the day at the bottom of the Concacaf hexagonal World Cup qualifying group, but victory moved them up to second. Mexico squandered a two-goal lead in Honduras, both goals courtesy of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, to finish 2-2. Jamaica and Panama drew 1-1.
Mexico host the United States in the Azteca stadium on Tuesday, while Honduras travel to Panama.
Coach Klinsmann, criticized earlier in the week in a Sporting News story citing unidentified players, used his 24th lineup in 24 matches since replacing Bob Bradley after losing eight players to injuries and illness.