U.S. back four delivers a big performance 

March, 23, 2013

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- There was no shortage of storylines heading into the men's national team's enormous 1-0 World Cup qualifying win against Costa Rica on Friday night, but the biggest one -- on the field, anyway -- concerned the Americans' patchwork defensive line. Could a hastily thrown together back four missing three regulars shut down the dangerous Ticos?

It turns out they could.

Not only did Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez and DaMarcus Beasley shut out the visitors, they barely put a foot wrong all match -- no easy feat given the comically snowy conditions at DSG Park. For a squad whose defensive depth has been questioned all week, it's a great sign for the national team heading into Tuesday's match against Mexico south of the border.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.