The United States defeated El Salvador 2-0 to advance to the semifinals of the 2017 Gold Cup and will face Costa Rica saturday night. The USMNT have barely met expectations in this Gold Cup but the reinforcements have arrived and played a key role in a mostly comfortable win. Assists from newcomers Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey to a pair of defenders late in the first half opened up the game and the US held on for the win.
Despite the clean sheet the US defense continued it’s shaky performance as a collection of turnovers and poor man marking gave El Salvador a series of dangerous chances. However the Salvadorian playmakers were not sharp as they could only manage one shot on target. The same mistakes will be punished against Costa Rica.
The match opened with fireworks as the U.S. fired six shots in the first twelve minutes. However El Salvador’s chances were equally dangerous. The scariest moment took place following a soft Eric Lichaj back pass that forced Tim Howard to the edge of the box to swipe the ball away.
In the eighteenth minute Gyasi Zardes collected a Clint Dempsey pass and beat the keeper to the joy of the American Outlaws directly behind the net. However the linesman incorrectly called Zardes offside and wiped away the goal.
The game settled down until Bradley stepped over a long free kick in the 41st minute and sent a low knuckler into the box. The size advantage the US team enjoyed paid off as Omar Gonzalez, with a defender draped on him, headed the ball past the keeper Derby Carrillo.
Minutes later the US doubled their lead. Eric Lichaj earned redemption and Clint Dempsey earned his assist following a beautiful turn and pass to the cutting right back. Lichaj slotted the ball through the keepers legs and the US went into halftime comfortable for the first time in the tournament.
The US cruised in the second half trading a few chances with El Salvador. The US continued to show anxious moments where better sides might make them pay, but in the end the goal was accomplished.
The US outshot El Salvador fourteen to eight while owning 59 percent of possession. The game was marred by a significant number of fouls on both sides. The US finished with nineteen fouls while El Salvador’s tactic of slowing the game down resulted in twenty six fouls.
In the first quarterfinal of the tournament Costa Rica survived a defensive match and advanced after Panamanian midfielder Anibal Godoy sent a gorgeous header into his own net. It was a cruel fate for a Panama team that battled Los Ticos evenly on a very hot Philadelphia evening.