Ten-Man USA advance to Copa America Quarterfinals

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER.

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Philadelphia — The U.S. Men’s National Team clinched a spot in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals after going down a man against Paraguay.

Clint Dempsey scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Paraguay but the Americans were forced to play nearly the entire second half with ten men after DeAndre Yedlin collected two yellow cards within the span of a minute. Dempsey’s goal was the 51st of his international career and was enough for the US, who relied on stout defending from John Brooks to secure the result.

“Obviously it was fantastic performance, especially after the red card for Deandre which I saw it real quick [on replay]. It’s two yellows. Totally fine,” Jurgen Klinsmann said after the match. “The way they grinded it out, kept the shape and discipline, the way they worked for each other. It was an absolute great performance and they all deserve a huge huge compliment.

“It was a wonderful team performance.

The match started evenly with both sides in 4-4-2 formations. The US were able to create chances through their wide play and by integrating Dempsey into the buildup. They found their goal after Gyasi Zardes won possession in midfield and ran down the left wing before cutting back to the center of the area. Dempsey was the first to the ball and slotted his first-time shot passed Justo Villar.

The US nearly allowed an equalizer before halftime when Brooks missed an interception, allowing Dario Lezcano to walk in on goal. Brad Guzan, however, saved the day with a huge kick save.

The US was forced to defend for much of the second half after Yedlin made two lunging, reckless challenges on consecutive plays. His ejection prompted Klinsmann to sub on Michael Orozco for Dempsey.

Orozco was comfortable at right back but the Paraguayans did very little to challenge the US defense. Brooks, who continued his strong play this tournament, was comfortable intercepting long balls and crosses while the midfield remained compact and closed down any penetrating run made. Paraguay would get their best chance to tie the game in the 82nd minute when Guzan made a double save on Jorge Benítez and Miguel Almirón.

Gustavo Gomez had an 84th-minute goal disallowed after he strayed a yard offside.

The US finish group play with six points. They will win the group and play their quarterfinal in Seattle if Colombia lose to Costa Rica. If Colombia gets a result, the US will play its quarterfinal at MetLife Stadium.