Nothing about the U.S. quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup has been conventional, so Friday night's 1-0 triumph over Costa Rica in a blizzard under the lights at Dick's Sporting Goods Park can be chalked up to just another item on the growing list.
While the relentless snow was the main talking point immediately before, during and after, it completely took the spotlight off the fact that the U.S. needed to come through with a bounce-back performance to ease qualification worries. Following a loss to Honduras last month and after enduring a trying week in which manager Jurgen Klinsmann's leadership was called into serious question, the Americans responded and took a necessary step in the right direction.
Klinsmann always talks about trying to push players out of their comfort zones in order for them to reach their potential, and in some of the most uncomfortable conditions imaginable, the Americans came through with a performance that shoots them up to second in the CONCACAF hexagonal standings heading into Tuesday's bout with rival Mexico at Estadio Azteca. Here are player ratings from Friday's match (as always, on a scale from 0-10):