After slogging through 82 uneventful minutes in Tuesday's final Gold Cup group stage match against Costa Rica, the Americans connected on a full-field, counterattack sequence that saw Brek Shea finish off the only goal of the game in East Hartford, Conn.
The 1-0 win ended a perfect three-game run throughout the group stages and extended the U.S.'s winning streak to eight games, the longest in the 100 years of U.S. soccer.
With victories over Belize and Cuba, the U.S. had already cemented its spot in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup. But following Tuesday's win, they can focus on preparing for El Salvador in Baltimore on Sunday.
The decisive sequence came after backup goalie Sean Johnson, starting in place of Nick Rimando, made a tremendous goal-saving deflection off a corner kick.
Joe Corona cleared the ball ahead with a volleying header, and the Americans were off. Facing a two-on-one break, Landon Donovan one-timed an excellent lead pass to a streaking Shea, whose powerful, left-footed shot deflected off the Costa Rican goalkeeper into the back of the net.
For Shea, who struggled mightily in 45 minutes against Cuba, his first international goal was sweet redemption.