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3 things we learned from the USMNT's 4-0 win over Costa Rica in Copa America

The United States brought their finishing boots and cut out some defensive mistakes on Tuesday.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The United States men's national team is back in control of their own destiny in Copa America. They're back on track to capture a quarterfinal berth after defeating Costa Rica, 4-0, in Chicago.

Costa Rica dominated the opening five minutes, but the USMNT took the lead on their first dangerous foray into the Ticos' box. In the seventh minute, Cristian Gamboa gave Bobby Wood a shove in the back, which the referee spotted. He pointed to the spot and Clint Dempsey stepped up to bury the penalty, putting the United States ahead 1-0.


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The Ticos took a blow in the 18th minute when they were forced into a substitution. Marco Ureña exited due to injury and the much less mobile Álvaro Saborio entered the game.

Dempsey added an assist in the 37th minute, albeit a bit inadvertently. After Jermaine Jones won the ball and passed it to Dempsey, the USMNT striker did well to beat a couple of defenders, but then lost the ball. Fortunately, the way he lost it let it fall right to Jones, who hit a perfect shot inside of the far post from the edge of the box.

Wood made it 3-0 just five minutes later, with Dempsey picking up an entirely intentional assist this time. He squared from the left and Wood took a touch, turned, then smacked the ball into the back of the net from 15 yards.

Costa Rica made their final two changes at halftime, introducing Rándall Azofeifa and José Salvatierra in place of Joel Campbell and Gamboa. And while the Ticos had plenty of the ball, with the United States willing to defend their lead, those substitutes didn't do much to get Costa Rica back into the game.

Graham Zusi came off as a second-half sub, and he was gifted the exclamation point goal in the 87th minute. He picked up a turnover on the left wing, then ran into the center unopposed and finished calmly from 15 yards, sealing an impressive victory for his team.

Following this game, the Americans have three points from two matches, while Costa Rica has one. Neither team has been eliminated from the tournament, though their likelihood of progressing or winning the group will depend on the result of the late game between Colombia and Paraguay.

United States: Guzan, Johnson, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin, Bradley, Jones, Bedoya (Beckerman 83'), Wood (Zusi 70'), Dempsey (Wondolowski 77'), Zardes

Goals: Dempsey (penalty 9'), Jones (37'), Wood (42'), Zusi (87')

Costa Rica: Pemberton, Duarte, Calvo, Acosta, Matarria, Bolaños, Borges, Gamboa (Salvatierra 46'), Ruiz, Campbell (Azofeifa 46')

Goals: None.

The good Jermaine Jones showed up

Jermaine Jones was among the most widely criticized players after Friday's loss to Colombia, but Jurgen Klinsmann stuck with his most experienced midfielder and it paid off. Not only did Jones score a great goal, but he won the ball in midfield and regularly carried the ball forward to start attacks, too. This was the player who's dominated for Colorado Rapids so far this season.

This USMNT back four remains solid

The group of Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron and DeAndre Yedlin is here to stay. Not only are they good players individually, but they appear to have a good understanding and compliment each other well. In the opening minutes of the game, when the USMNT front six couldn't keep the ball, the back four never faltered and didn't let Costa Rica get off any high-quality shots.

Swap Dempsey and Wood, please

This goal was great.

It also featured Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood moving out of their starting positions. The USMNT attack would look a lot better and do stuff like this more often if Wood and Dempsey just swapped positions. Klinsmann should be playing Dempsey on the left and Wood through the center.