United States into Copa America semis with Ecuador victory

United States into Copa America semis with Ecuador victory

United States into Copa America semis with Ecuador victory

The United States stormed into their first Copa America semifinals since 1995, after a hard fought victory over South American rivals, Ecuador. A 2-1 win, courtesy of Clint Dempsey’s third goal of the tournament and a Gyasi Zardes tap in, were enough to book a potential blockbuster against tournament favorites Argentina in Houston, Texas, next Wednesday, Kenyan time.

The stage had been set, the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington, was full of an energetic and partisan crowd. And they didn’t have to wait long for ecstasy to ooze from within. In the 22nd minute of the game, veteran and former Fulham and Tottenham Hotspurs forward, Clint Dempsey, rose to meet a Jermaine Jones cross with a lovely header that zoomed past the outstretched hands of Ecuador keeper, Alexander Dominguez, to send the stands into a frenzy.

It’s not that Los Amarillos were being overrun. In fact, they had better possession and shots compared to the Americans, but the Yanks simply would not bolt. But if the first half was somewhat even in the play, the second one would turn eventful.

It all started in the 53rd minute. Man United player, Antonio Valencia, tussled for the ball with Nantes midfielder, Alejandro Bedoya, before the latter was harshly fouled by the former. In the aftermath, as the U.S. players rushed to the scene, Yanks midfielder Jones raised an arm at Michael Arroyo and received a straight red card. Valencia also got his marching orders for a second bookable offense, to leave both sides 10-man apiece.

It was the Stars and Stripes who capitalized first. In the 65th minute, defender John Brooks crossed the ball into the box for Zardes to head it towards Dempsey. Dempsey then squared the ball back to Zardes for a simple tap-in, as the Yanks made it 2-0.

As the U.S. began to tire, Ecuador upped the ante and in the 74th minute, Arroyo got behind a well executed free kick by Walter Ayovi to smash the ball into the net past Brad Guzman, who could do nothing but stretch. A subdued Enner Valencia saw two good chances in quick succession, as El Tri chased an equalizer, while the Americans were lucky not to score an own goal in injury time as they held on to a famous win.

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