- Defenders score first half goals
- Defenders also struggle to mark
- USMNT faces Costa Rica in semis
- VIDEO: Altidore bit by Romero
Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj scored first half goals to give the United States men’s national team a 2-0 win over El Salvador in the Gold Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday in Philadelphia.
On another night with better finishers, however, El Salvador might’ve just shocked CONCACAF.
The match was sloppy at the back for both sides, and featured the sideshow of an El Salvadoran player biting American striker Jozy Altidore.
Altidore flicked Arriola toward the 18 for a chance that was deflected out for a corner.
A break in the other direction saw Eric Lichaj make a massive mistake that forced Tim Howard to stop Rodolfo Zelaya with a desperate sliding paw.
Soon after, Dempsey was denied his chance at equaling the USMNT record for goals when Derby Carrillo lunged to block a doorstep chance.
Matt Hedges was spun and conceded a free kick just outside the 18, and El Salvador came close to going ahead on the ensuing opportunity.
Altidore was saved by Carrillo, and Dempsey played Gyasi Zardes through for a goal that was wrongly called offside in the 17th minute.
The Yanks grew frustrated by the packed-in, ready-to-foul Cuscatlecos, and yellow cards were produced for several players including American veterans Jozy Altidore and Darlington Nagbe.
When it seemed El Salvador would get to the break level, Gonzalez flicked a splendid Michael Bradley free kick — from one of the captain’s favorite angles — for his second big goal of the tournament and a 1-0 lead.
Altidore had another chance stopped well by Carrillo in stoppage time, but the goalkeeper couldn’t get it to the garage at 1-0. A remarkable turn from Dempsey slid Lichaj into the box, and the Nottingham Forest was well away from his flank when he buried his chance.
El Salvador worked into a pair of open shots in the early second half, with the first blazed over the bar and the second low and wide of the near post.
One of those was given away by Lichaj, who was in trouble along with Justin Morrow as El Salvador’s counters became increasingly dangerous.
El Salvador’s Henry Romero bit Altidore and then twisted his chest on a corner kick around the hour mark, unseen by the referee but picked up by replay.
Center backs Gonzalez and Matt Hedges were caught out of position and sometimes out of the camera, with the former’s missed clearance of a cross nearly allowing El Salvador back into the game in the 63rd minute. Those chances didn’t stop as the match wore on, but the Yanks escaped with a clean sheet.