Clint Dempsey said his United States teammates showed heart in a crucial 4-0 win vs. Guatemala in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, while manager Jurgen Klinsmann hailed the team's attitude.
Dempsey played a big part in the victory, scoring 12 minutes into the game to help ease his team's nerves following their disappointing 2-0 loss in Guatemala last Friday.
The Americans would go on to score three more goals to cruise to an easy win and leapfrog Guatemala in the Group C standings to bolster their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Brazil.
"I thought we showed a lot of heart," Dempsey said. "We showed a lot of character by dealing with a pressure situation.
"We showed our pride. You've got to do that if want to make it to the World Cup. You've got to show that you want it, and we showed that we wanted it."
The Americans responded to the pressure situation which would have seen their chances of making the next World Cup take a major hit and improved to 27-0-2 at home in qualifying since 2001, including 7-0-2 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
"Columbus has bailed us out on several occasions," U.S. captain Michael Bradley said.
Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi, who was added to the roster on Sunday, and Jozy Altidore added the extra goals to secure the win, leading Klinsmann to praise his team for rallying at an important time.
"The attitude tonight was outstanding," Klinsmann said. "We were in sync with the wonderful crowd that pushed them from the first second. There was wonderful energy. Every team needs leadership from its veteran players.
"It's important that today we really found partnerships in that 4-3-3 formation. We knew they were going to clog the box in front of their goal, that's what happened. So you need to find ways to come over the wings. We trained that way."
Midfielder Christian Pulisic, also added to the roster Sunday, made his national team debut in the 81st minute. At 17 years, 193 days, Pulisic became the youngest American in a qualifier. By appearing in the game, Pulisic became ineligible to play for Croatia, the nation of his grandfather.
"It's exactly what I expected; very, very physical," Pulisic said. "It was a good game. It gives me confidence. I'm going to try and stay grounded and keep doing what I'm doing and become the best player I can."
Bradley is suspended for the United States' next game at St. Vincent and the Grenadines after getting his second yellow card of the round in the 72nd minute.
ESPN FC writer Doug McIntyre contributed to this story.