US in Copa last four

by

June 18, 2016
United States' Clint Dempsey (left) scores his side's first goal against Ecuador during a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal match on Thursday, June 16 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

SEATTLE (AP):

Another benchmark for the United States. Another huge goal for Clint Dempsey.

As unlikely as it seemed a few weeks ago, the US are in the semi-finals of the Copa America.

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 semi-finals with a wild 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday night.

"Clint is special," US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "He showed that tonight. He showed that the last couple of weeks. He showed that throughout his entire career."

Playing before a boisterous and almost completely partisan home crowd of 47,322 in the football-mad Pacific Northwest, the US won a knockout game against a nation outside their region for only the second time other than in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They will play Argentina or Venezuela on Tuesday in Houston.

And the Americans did it on the back of Dempsey, their fiery 33-year-old striker whose place on the US team was debated early this year. Dempsey's 52nd international goal, five behind Landon Donovan's American record, put the US 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 moments later on a pair of headers.

It was a chippy game that became costly for the US. American 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 a harsh tackle on Alejandro Bedoya along the sideline.

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