The United States claimed a spot in the Copa America Centenario semifinals with a 2-1 win over Ecuador.
We always knew that this was going to be a tough game and the United States would have to give it all they had to get past Ecuador. And even though Ecuador had a pretty good game, the United States played the best we have seen them play in a long time to claim the win.
The game started out pretty quickly, with the United States defending well and looking to hit Ecuador on the counter attack. That is exactly what happened in the 22nd minute when Dempsey found Wood on a through ball, who pulled it back to Jones on the top of the box. Jones hit a ball in one-touch right to the head of our man Clint Dempsey who, from ten yards out, finished the header to give the United States the 1-0 lead. United States fans had a scare at the end of the first half when, in stoppage time, Bradley hit a dangerous ball back to Brooks that was intercepted by Michael Arroyo. Guzan came up big and was able to make the save on the breakaway.
The second half started very chippy and was pretty back and forth until in the 65th minute Cameron hit a ball over the top to Wood who turned in a cross towards Zardes. The initial cross was headed away, but Dempsey was able to collect the ball, drive it to the goal-line, and hit a ball across goal for Zardes to score on an easy tap-in. Ecuador was able to pull a goal back and make it 2-1 after Bedoya conceded a foul by the corner flag. The ball was played at the top of the box and Michael Arroyo hit a laser of a shot, beating Guzan to his right. Though Ecuador had other chances to equalize, they never were able to capitalize on them and the score-line stayed 2-1.
The United States will have a much harder time moving on into the Copa America finals though. Let’s face it, Argentina will beat Venezuela on Saturday, meaning Messi and Co. will be taking on the United States. Not only that, but because of suspensions, the United States will be without 3 players who have started all of the Copa America matches so far in this tournament. Jermaine Jones got a red card in the 52nd minute for putting a fist to Arroyo’s face, suspending him for the next match. Also on that suspension list is Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya, both for yellow card accumulations. With all this negativity, one positive that will come out of all this is the return of Yedlin, who missed today’s match with a red card suspension.
The United States will travel to Houston to take on the winner of the Argentina-Venezuela match on Saturday. Kick-off for the semifinal next Tuesday will be at 6pm and it will be televised on Fox Sports 1.