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2016 Copa América, Quarterfinals
  • Clint Dempsey (22')
  • Gyasi Zardes (65')
  • Jermaine Jones (52')
  • Michael Arroyo (74')
  • Antonio Valencia (52')

United States edges Ecuador to reach Copa America semifinals

Clint Dempsey scored for the third straight game and set up Gyasi Zardes for a tap-in goal, boosting the United States into the Copa America semifinals with a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday night.

Playing before a boisterous and almost completely partisan home crowd in the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. won a rare knockout game against a nation outside its region and will play Argentina or Venezuela on Tuesday in Houston.

Dempsey's 52nd international goal, five behind Landon Donovan's national record, put the U.S. ahead in the 22nd minute. Zardes guided Dempsey's cross into the net in the 65th for his sixth goal and a 2-0 lead.

Michael Arroyo scored for Ecuador in the 74th minute, making for a tense ending, and Enner Valencia missed a pair of great chances moment later on a pair of headers.

A chippy game was costly for the U.S. as midfielder Jermaine Jones was shown a red card during a 52nd-minute confrontation that also saw Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia sent off after a second yellow card for kicking out at Alejando Bedoya along the sideline .

U.S. players immediately rushed into the scrum after Valencia's challenge, and Jones raised an arm at Arroyo. Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan immediately showed a red card to Jones.

Jones will be suspended for the semifinal along with U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood, who both picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament.

The U.S. had only previously won knockout stage games over non-CONCACAF teams against Estonia at the 1924 Olympics, Brazil at the 1998 Gold Cup and Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinal.

In four appearances in the Cop America, the U.S. only reached the semifinals in 1995, when it advanced to the final four by beating Mexico, then was eliminated by Brazil.

Dempsey appeared energized playing in the home stadium of his Seattle Sounders, and his header provided the U.S. a chance to relax after a tense opening. Wood was tremendous all night getting behind the defense and holding the ball up to provide chances on the attack and did so for both American goals.

On the first goal, Dempsey played the ball ahead to Wood, who dribbled and then passed to Jones. He crossed into the penalty area, where Dempsey had completed his run from midfield and beat Juan Paredes to the ball, directing it to the corner of the net past goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez from 8 yards.

The second goal was also a result of Wood playing the ball back. Brooks played a long ball to Wood, and his pass to Matt Besler was crossed to Gyasi Zardes in the area. His headed pass found Dempsey, who was able to slide a pass across the mouth of the goal for Zardes to poke in.

After that, the Americans tired and Ecuador turned up the pressure. Arroyo's goal came off Walter Ayovi's free kick from a flank. Enner Valencia missed two chances in the 76th and 77th minutes, and Brooks nearly put in an own goal in the first minute of stoppage time, only to see the ball deflected wide by goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

U.S. captain Michael Bradley wore a rainbow armband in honor of those killed in the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting last weekend.