USMNT survives wild play, beats Canada on penalties and advances to semifinals


The USMNT will face Panama in the semifinals on Wednesday. (Photo by John Dorton/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

It took a late goal and a tremendous save from goalie Matt Turner on penalties, but the US men’s national team survived on Sunday night.

The United States defeated Canada 2-2 (3-2 on penalties) in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. With that, the Americans reached the semi-finals and saved them from a historic surprise defeat by Canada.

The Americans advanced to penalties with a wild goal in the final minutes of extra time. Turner then saved Canada’s first two penalties and Canada’s Charles-Andréas Brym hit the crossbar with his last attempt – sealing the win.

“I thought you saw two really good teams going head-to-head,” said interim US coach BJ Callaghan said after the game on Fox. “The first half was a bit slow. It started out uncomfortable. We didn’t manage to really get the rhythm into the game. In the second half I was really proud of the group. They were able to push and push… I was super proud of those guys, their reaction and the input we got from the bench was tremendous.”

It looked like Canada would walk away with a win, ending the United States’ 28-game winning streak against CONCACAF opponents on home soil early in extra time.

Jacob Schaffelburg made an incredible rush down the left side of the field in the 108th minute and slammed his goal into the opponent’s side of the net – giving Canada their first lead of the game, 2-1.

It was only the second time the United States had fallen behind in a Gold Cup quarterfinal game.

But just like in regulation, Canada’s lead didn’t last long. Gianluca Busio scored the equalizer – technically netted by Canada’s Scott Kennedy after goalkeeper Dayne St Clair saved the first stop – and tied the game again in the 114th minute.

This led to the penalty shootout and eventual victory for the United States.

“We got in line straight away [after Canada’s goal]”And everybody’s been talking about how we’re going to aim for that goal and get there,” Callaghan said. “Here are the moments too. Those are the high stakes, high impact games that we want to play because they test the character of the group, and tonight we showed up.”

At the end of regulation time, Brandon Vázquez almost won the game for the United States. After a very slow and sometimes tense first half, Vázquez perfectly fitted a pass from DeJuan Jones and headed the ball in to finally put the Americans on the field in the 88th minute.

Vázquez, who plays for FC Cincinnati in MLS, has scored three goals in the tournament so far.

The 1-0 lead didn’t last long. Canada quickly equalized in added time after Steven Vitória converted a penalty after a check revealed Miles Robinson had touched the ball with his hand in the penalty area. That goal, Vitória’s fifth international goal, saw the game go into overtime.

The USMNT survived the group stage without any problems. The unbeaten run ended with a terrific 6-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday. With that, they scored 13 goals in the group stage, which represented the most goals ever scored by the team in the group stage of the tournament. That was followed by a 6-0 win over St Kitts and Nevis and a 1-1 draw with Jamaica last month.

Canada snuck through the group stage and reached the knockout stages. Canada opened the group stage with draws against Guadeloupe and Guatemala before beating Cuba 4-2 to secure second place in the group.

With the win, the USA will meet Panama on Wednesday. Panama easily defeated Qatar in Saturday’s quarterfinal match. On the other hand, Mexico advanced to the semi-finals on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Costa Rica. They meet Jamaica, who defeated Guatemala in the quarter-finals the previous Sunday.

Although Sunday’s performance was not great for the most part, the United States took the win. In the knockout stages, that’s really all that matters.

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