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The defense of the USA gave up an early goal to El Salvador, but managed to regroup and help American squad to victory.

SANDY, Utah -- Knowing how much was at stake in the game versus El Salvador, it perhaps wouldn't be surprising if the defense of the USA panicked after giving up the opening goal. However, the American backline regrouped and held firm for the rest of the match.

"They all put a lot into it," said a relieved Bob Bradley after the game.

He singled out the team captain for praise. "I also want to mention Carlos today. In a makeshift backline he moved back into the center, he needed to take a big leadership role. The one thing to be said about El Salvador all across the field is they compete. They're fighters. So you need to have somebody getting after every play. I thought Carlos did a good job of winning his battles and organizing the backline and it was good to see."

Goalkeeper Tim Howard noted that despite the pressure on the defense, it was a team effort to prevent a second goal from El Salvador in the second half

"We controlled a lot of it, but at the same time it was still 2-1," said Howard. "It ends up being a track meet back and forth."

The USA players wanted to take advantage of the spaces opening up on the field, but at the same time deny an equalizer by their opponent.

"It ends up being a tricky type of game, but a great result," Howard said.

Michael Bradley did a lot of the work in midfield to maintain the lead ans was comfortable working with some of the new faces brought in for the game.

"We have a good team," noted the midfielder. "As a team we're comfortable that on any given day any given guy can come in and do a job for the team."

Once of those new faces, Chad Marshall, explained that communication helped the players stay on the same page.

"We did a lot of talking to make sure we were organized," Marshall said. "We gave up one goal, but I thought we did well."

Howard made a sharp save late in the game to help preserve the result.

"It was deflected," said Howard. "Jonathon Spector said it deflected off of his shin pad, and then I touched it off the bar or it hit the bar first. In some spots you get lucky."

The USA backline was something of a makeshift affair, given the suspension of Oguchi Onyewu and the injury to Jay DeMerit, but Howard praised their performance.

"It was really good," said Howard, singling out Marshall for commendation. "One thing about Chad is he’s very calm and very poised, even in life in general."

That steady disposition was exactly what the defense needed in the tense final moments of the game.

"It’s tricky," admitted Howard. "You want to stay calm, but you are also thinking it’s the difference between three points and one point. That’s a big difference. To say you are a little on edge is an understatement. You just want the whistle to blow."

Zac Lee Rigg and Randy Davis, reporting from Utah for Goal.com, with contribution from Andrea Canales in Los Angeles.

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