Antonee Robinson (right) celebrates his goal with Weston McKennie. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis
FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

You might not have seen it in the sub-freezing temperatures at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday night, but El Salvador made the U.S. men’s national team sweat at times in their World Cup qualifier.

The Americans overcame a frustrating first half to grind out a 1-0 victory over a gritty Central American side in the Concacaf Octagonal.

Left back Antonee Robinson tallied the lone goal of the match before a sellout crowd as goalkeeper Matt Turner, who did not have to make a save, recorded the clean sheet.

The Americans (5-1-3, 18 points) remained in second place in the Concacaf Octagonal after Canada (5-0-4, 19) won in Honduras, 2-0. Seventh-place El Salvador (6 points) dropped to 1-5-3.

The result also improved the USA’s qualifying record in the Ohio capital to 8-1-2.

U.S. Soccer selected Columbus as the venue for this game, hoping that the sub-freezing temperatures would slow the Central Americans down. It didn’t work, at least not in the opening half.

The USMNT which has scored 11 of its 13 qualifying goals in the second half, finally found the net in the 52nd minute as Robinson slotted home Jesus Ferreira’s header pass from six yards past goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez for a 1-0 advantage.

The Fulham fullback celebrated his second international goal by performing a double back flip and sticking the landing.

A revived American side continually attacked the El Salvadorans’ net, but could not find an insurance goal. Robinson, who had an active night on the left flank, found himself with another scoring opportunity, but Gonzalez denied his attempt in the 85th minute.

It took a while for the USA to find its legs as it applied pressure as the opening half wore on.

Jesus Ferreira had the two best opportunities for the host side within a three-minute span. He fired a 10-yard shot from the left side of the penalty area over the net in the 16thh minute.

Three minutes later, outside back Sergino Dest raced down the right flank and sent a cross to Tim Weah, who headed it to Ferreira on the left side. The FC Dallas forward, however, also sent this attempt over the crossbar.

The El Salvadorans got more confidence as the half went on and made the Americans sweat a little in the 28th minute after Dest lost possession in midfielder. The visitors quickly countered before Alex Roldan rifled a shot from the top right of the penalty area just left of the net.

For a good portion of the first half, El Salvador found away to bottle up midfielders Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah to slow down the U.S. attack. Coupled with several tactical fouls, the Americans grew frustrated.

Weah had a chance in the 42nd minute, but he also booted his 12-yard attempt over the bar.

The USA will journey north to Hamilton, Ontario to play Canada on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET before returning home to welcome Honduras in the final game of the three-game window in St. Paul, Minn. in another cold weather setting on Wednesday, Feb. 2.