The US national team brought in five new starters for their 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against El Salvador and earned a 2-0 win on Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
The win was both paradoxically in hand by halftime and also constantly under siege, as the US defense gave El Salvador multiple chances, which were wasted. Gyasi Zardes had a goal called off in the first half for offside, with replays indicating that call was incorrect. But Omar Gonzalez put the home team ahead just before halftime, as he headed Michael Bradley’s free kick into the net. Eric Lichaj doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time.
The USMNT will next face Costa Rica in the Gold Cup semifinal on Saturday.
- 41′ – USA – Omar Gonzalez
- 45+2′ – USA – Eric Lichaj
- ALTIDORE ATTACKED: We’ll talk about the performance and the standard game points in a moment, but first, let’s talk about what happened to Jozy Altidore in the second half. The US striker endured two separate attacks ahead of set pieces in El Salvador’s box, including an apparent bite by Henry Romero after he had already twisted the Toronto FC man’s nipple (yes, you read that right) minutes earlier. Even with the passion of a knockout game and tempers flaring, Romero’s actions were inexcusable and we will see if CONCACAF issues any retroactive punishment to the defender.
- MIXED RESULTS FOR DEFENSE: When it comes to the meat and potatoes of the game, the USMNT defense had a very uneven performance. Sure, the goals came from defenders, and the winning side kept a clean sheet, but the defense looked as shaky as it has all tournament. Even after taking the lead, in the second half the Americans appeared to clear the way time and again for El Salvador to attempt to pull a goal back, but fortunately last-second desperation defending or wayward finishing saved them. The US’ next opponent, Costa Rica, have not exactly been free-scoring in the Gold Cup themselves, but they are likely licking their chops over the possibilities in the semifinal.
- AMERICAN CHANGES: Bruce Arena called in six players ahead of this game and started five of them (two of the reinforcements were goalkeepers). The baseline performance did leave much to be desired, but Bradley and Clint Dempsey both chipped in assists and Tim Howard helped notch the shutout, while Altidore of course preoccupied El Salvador defenders. This Gold Cup may turn out to be a grind-it-out tournament overall for the USMNT, but expect the senior players called in for this phase to continue to play a leading role the rest of the way.
- USA: Saturday, July 22 vs. Costa Rica (9:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision)
- SLV: Eliminated