The United States rode first-half goals from Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj to a 2-0 win against El Salvador in the Gold Cup quarterfinals in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
The U.S. started four of the six new members it added to the squad after winning Group B, as Bruce Arena sought to bring in some veterans to help push for a sixth Gold Cup crown for the Americans.
However, El Salvador was nearly gifted an early goal when Lichaj's back pass from midfield was intercepted by El Salvador and forced Tim Howard to come well of his line to break up the play.
A goalmouth flurry in the seventh minute led to the best chance for the U.S. to open the scoring, but Gonzalez mishit a close-range shot and Clint Dempsey's follow up effort was smothered by Derby Carrillo.
Darlington Nagbe then played Jozy Altidore into the El Salvador penalty area with a nice pass, but the Toronto FC striker scuffed his shot right to Carrillo.
Gyasi Zardes had the ball in the back of the net for the U.S. in the 17th minute, but the referee had the flag up for offside after Dempsey had set his teammate into the box.
The U.S. had looked dangerous from set pieces all night, and its opener came from a Michael Bradley free kick that Gonzalez met with perfect timing to head past Carrillo to give his team a 1-0 lead.
And right before half-time Lichaj made it 2-0, scoring his first career senior team goal after a quick turn and pass from Dempsey left him alone in the El Salvador penalty area.
El Salvador looked to turn the momentum back in its favor in the second half, with Dennis Pineda trying his luck from distance in the 50th minute after a U.S. giveaway before Darwin Ceren narrowly missed to the left of Howard's goal minutes later.
A bit of sloppy defending from the Americans allowed El Salvador to get free in the U.S. penalty area, but a solid recovery run from Lichaj helped shut down the chance.
Dempsey, looking for a goal to tie Landon Donovan for the all-time U.S. lead, nearly scored in the 74th minute, but his curling left-footed shot was tipped just wide of the post by Carrillo.
The U.S. will now face Costa Rica, who beat Panama in Wednesday's other quarterfinal, in the semis in Dallas on Saturday.