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Turning Point or Anomaly for the USMNT?

Was a win against Costa Rica in Copa America Centenario a defining statement for a team that had been in doubt? Or will it end up a hiccup en route to another 18 months lost in the soccer wilderness?

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday's match against Costa Rica had no implications for the Hex. It didn't get the US into Russia 2018. There were no medals for winning the game. It isn't even the last match in the group stage: with a Paraguay win on Friday, the US would still get knocked out.

But rest assured, this game might stand as a defining moment for the US Men's National Team.

We've all been perplexed at the USMNT's progress to date since turning in a pretty respectable performance at the 2014 World Cup. The US had a disappointing result at last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup in getting knocked out by Jamaica. That, mixed with some uneven results in the past 18 months - friendly wins over Germany and Holland; listless defeats against Brazil and Guatemala - have a lot of USMNT fans pretty frustrated. The US men's team seems to be stuck in neutral, forever condemned to be a quarter-finalist-and-bust team in the World Cup, and a little less than that at times, even.

Questions abound. Have we settled on a formation? Is Jurgen calling in the right personnel? Have we begun the shift to younger players that will headline the team at Russia 2018? Are players being played in the best positions for them? Is youth development on the right course?

Before Costa Rica, pundits were even asking fundamental questions about the near future of the US: had Jurgen lost the locker room? Would Sunil Gulati pull the plug on Jurgen Klinsmann if the team didn't emerge from the group stage of Copa America Centenario?

Costa Rica doesn't solve all of the problems of the past 18 months. We still have yet to see a lot of things. We don't know if the US can beat the bigger teams in South America. We don't know if Klinsmann can show a clear tactical vision for the team, or adapt from game to game and be more than an effective motivator.

But the 4-0 victory over Costa Rica certainly demonstrated that the US was not as poor a team as it appeared against Colombia.

It showed the team could defend, a hallmark of past USMNT teams.

It showed that Jermaine Jones, age 34, could still bust his butt all over the field and terrorize opponents on both sides of the ball. And finish for a goal too. (But us Rapids fans already knew that).

It showed Fabian Johnson, although still not a proper left back, might be capable of the job at the higher level the international game demands.

It showed Michael Bradley can be right at home as a true number 6 in this team.

It showed that Bobby Wood's scoring form this past season isn't just a hiccup due to weak 2.Bundesliga opposition: dude can put a ball in a net.

Hey, don't get me wrong. I still have strong reservations about Jurgen Klinsmann's coaching and tactical acumen; reservations that have been there for a long time, and can't be assuaged with one win.

And certainly we need to see those kinds of results at least a few more times before we declare this team properly reborn. However, after the nadir of last summer's Gold Cup, the sharp and dominant play of the USMNT against Costa Rica, in a tournament that counts and in a ‘get a result or go home' situation is, to my mind, a turning point for this team, and not a mere aberration.