KENYA BROWN - Saturday, June 18, 2016
Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes scored the goals that saw the United States earn a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday in Seattle in the quarterfinals of the Copa América Centenario.
The win sees the US move on to the semifinals where they will await the winner between Argentina and Venezuela, who play on Saturday.
With a partisan US crowd at CenturyLink Field behind them, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann encouraging his players to be brave, the team were looking to continue their winning run that will hopefully see them reach the final of the Copa in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The U.S. came out with nearly the same lineup they have used in the group stage, but this time around DeAndre Yedlin was missing as he served a suspension after being sent off in their 1-0 win over Paraguay. Matt Besler replaced Yedlin in the starting lineup, which came as a surprise as it was expected that Michael Orozco would get the nod to fill in the right back position. The Sporting KC defender started at left back while Fabian Johnson was moved over to the right.
Ecuadorian winger Jefferson Montero attempted to challenge the U.S. defensive line early in the game when he curled a shot at goal, but it sailed over the bar.
After more than 20 minutes of back and forth from both sides in the attack, the U.S. scored the first goal of the game in the 22nd minute. Jermaine Jones' cross into the box found Dempsey and his headed effort beat Alexander Domínguez to give them the lead.
Dempsey had a chance to double the US lead four minutes later, but his attempt was smothered by Domínguez。
John Brooks, who has been playing spectacularly during the Copa, continued to be the rock of the defense when he cut out an effort from Michael Arroyo just minutes after the U.S. goal.
The Americans were holding on to their 1-0 lead heading into the second half until chaos broke out in the 52nd minute when referee Wilmar Roldan issued double red cards to Jones and Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United winger was competing with Alejandro Bedoya for the ball when tripped and pushed the U.S. midfielder out at the touchline. This caused an uproar as US players appealed to the referee to punish Valencia.
In the midst of settling things down Jones put his fist into Valencia's face, leading the referee to send off Jones. Valencia was issued his second yellow which automatically sent him to the showers for the rest of the game.
With both sides now down to 10 men, it was important that the U.S. find a second goal to give them some sense of comfort as Ecuador pressed to find the equalizer.
And they were rewarded in the 65th minute when Zardes scored. Dempsey would collect the loose ball in the area and pass it over to the LA Galaxy man for the easy tap in.
Ecuador cut into the lead in the 74th minute when Arroyo blasted home a shot from a free kick, beating Brad Guzan.
It was tense time over the last 15 minutes of play, but the US held on for the win to book their spot in Houston, Texas, for Tuesday's semifinal.
The team will most likely have to alter their lineup as Jones will be suspended along with Bedoya and Bobby Wood. However, the team has filed a protest against the cards given to Jones and Wood during the game. A decision will be made ahead of Tuesday's game.