The game was played in a driving snowstorm in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies and it was clear from the start that an early goal would likely mean the difference.
That goal came from Dempsey and it launched the United States into second place in the six-team, North American qualifying tournament for next year's soccer showcase in Brazil.
Having suffered a 2-1 loss in their qualifying opener last month in Honduras, the United States was in desperate need of a home win. The Americans were assisted when the other two qualifying games in the region played Friday wound up being tied.
The top three teams at the end of the 10-game, round-robin tournament will qualify for Brazil. The fourth-place team will take on New Zealand in a two-game playoff to determine another World Cup berth.
Honduras came from two goals down Friday to tie Mexico 2-2 and Panama played Jamaica to a 1-1 draw.
Honduras stands on top of the group with four points and the United States has three. Panama, Mexico and Jamaica all have two points in a qualifying tourney that will likely go down to the final few games.
The third round of qualifying action will take place next Tuesday when the United States goes to Mexico, Costa Rica hosts Jamaica and Honduras plays its first road game of the tournament at Panama.