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United States vs Costa Rica Copa America 2016, recap: Clint Dempsey leads the victory

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Big players step up in big games, and Clint Dempsey stepped all the way up. The United States needed a big result if it wanted a chance to win the group, and any result to advance. The Sounders forward midfielder is a huge reason why the USA beat Costa Rica 4-nil taking part in three of the goals.

Clint's first goal was from the spot ('9), then he tallied two assists by half ('37, '42). With Jermaine Jones roaming as he does for Colorado and Bobby Wood slipping central whenever Dempsey dropped into a creative space the first half was nearly as close to perfect. Only a miss by Gyasi Zardes, after another brilliant pass from Nagodoches' finest.

Costa Rica got bit with an injury forcing an early sub when Real Salt Lake D.C. United's Alvaro Saborio entered for Marcos Urena. At half the Ticos made two more subs - José Salvatierra and Rándall Azofeifa came on.

The second half was more in Costa Rica's favor, but between a post, John Brooks and Brad Guzan they could not capitalize. This gave Jurgen Klinsmann the chance to get rest for some of his preferred eleven. Bobby Wood left for Graham Zusi in the 70th minute as the USA switched to a full-time 4-4-2 with Dempsey in the hole and Zardes up top.

But Clint wouldn't have time to slot home a second goal. Chris Wondolowski entered for Dempsey in the 78th minute. Finally Kyle Beckerman replaced Alejandro Bedoya in the 82nd minute. It would not be a youth movement, but with a vital match against Paraguay upcoming, a few players earned a rest.

Graham Zusi was solely responsible for the fourth goal. He stole the ball, dribbled and created his own shot. That fourth goal ensured victory and helped the chances of winning the Group as goal differential is the first tie-breaker.

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