The United States Men’s Soccer Team is going to the quarterfinals of Copa America Centenario after scratching, clawing and generally surviving through a 1-0 win over Paraguay.
The U.S. advances to the knockout stage of the tournament for just the second time in its history by making a Clint Dempsey goal in the 27th minute stand despite playing almost the entirety of the second half, plus six minutes of stoppage time, down a man.
The U.S. joins Colombia as Group A representatives with the winner of the group determined after the Colombia-Costa Rica match. The United States will enter the knockout stage of Copa America Centenario with back-to-back clean sheets.
The first 20 minutes saw both teams attack but only Paraguay tested the goal, forcing goalkeeper Brad Guzan to use his hands on several occasions. Meanwhile, the United States charged, but could not execute the final touch to endanger the Paraguay goal. Their first real chance came on a direct free kick that Dempsey pushed just wide from 20 yards out.
But that all changed in the 27th minute when Gyasi Zardes took on two defenders to the left of the 18 and sent in a low cross that Dempsey calmly one-timed from 10 yards out to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. The goal is Dempsey’s 51st in international play.
Paraguay’s best chance in the first half came in stoppage time when Guzan thwarted a one-on-one opportunity.
The complexion of the match changed dramatically just two minutes into the second half when DeAndre Yedlin picked up two yellow cards in the matter of seconds forcing the U.S. to play a man down for almost the entire second half.
As expected, Paraguay pressed and pressed often, putting together a number of dangerous scoring opportunities during a second half that increased in physicality and tension as the minutes came off the clock – seven yellow cards were handed down in the half. Guzan saved the day on a pair of those opportunities in the 75th minute when Paraguay had a couple of chances inside the U.S. 6-yard box.
Paraguay had a goal disallowed in the 89th minute on an offside call.
Turning point: Dempsey’s goal was the difference but the turning point of the match was the handful of seconds between yellow cards for Yedlin. There was zero hesitation from the referee during Yedlin’s second challenge and for more than 46 minutes, the United States had to withstand storm after scoring storm.
Man of the Match: Guzan earns the Man of the Match distinction not for the volume of work, but because of his effort late in the match when he dropped low twice to save potential equalizing goals. The United States defense as a whole should be commended given the pressure put on them when Yedlin departed.
San Jose Earthquakes report: Chris Wondolowski did not play in the United States’ match against Paraguay.
Up Next: The United States have advanced to the quarterfinals and, depending on how Colombia’s match with Costa Rica plays out, will take on someone from Group B. Currently, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador are still alive in Group B.