Two red cards, a Gyasi Zardes winner, and a frantic final few minutes all resulted in the United States Men's National Team taking down Ecuador, 2-1, and advancing to the semifinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for the Pulse shooting victims and captain Michael Bradley wore a rainbow armband during the match.
Bradley sporting the rainbow captain's armband. Right now, this feels more like our team than ever. Beautiful. pic.twitter.com/uK2jkeAZcI— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) June 17, 2016
The Yanks started the game on the front foot, and deservedly took the lead through Clint Dempsey. After Bobby Wood chased the ball down on the end line, the Hamburg man laid the ball off to Jermaine Jones at the top of the 18. Jones played an inch-perfect cross to Dempsey, who made no mistake in burying the header and giving the U.S. the lead after 22 minutes.
Deuce gives #USA the lead. #USAvECU #CopaAmerica :v:https://t.co/8Muy4aHuEI— FourFourTwo USA (@FourFourTwoUSA) June 17, 2016
While the start of the second half saw Ecuador create a few dangerous chances, chaos ensued in the 52nd minute. Manchester United man Antonio Valencia kicked out at Alejandro Bedoya, earning the Ecuadorian his second yellow card and subsequent red. Coming to his teammate's aid, Jones struck Valencia's face, resulting in a straight card for himself.
Confused by the double red card? Here's another look at how Valencia and Jones were sent off. #USAvECU #MyCopaColors https://t.co/EhMsAfRCsV— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 17, 2016
Now 10-on-10, the game opened up dramatically and it was the U.S. that took advantage by doubling its lead in the 65th minute. Clint Dempsey found himself in on goal from a tight angle and dragged his shot across goal as Zardes ran in to tap home the eventual winner.
Gyasi Zardes, off the feed from Clint Dempsey, gives the #usmnt some breathing room. #USAvECU #MyCopaColors https://t.co/SxKajJCeJS— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 17, 2016
Ecuador made things interesting in the 74th minute when Michael Arroyo smashed home a shot from distance off a set piece to cut the lead to one.
It's not over yet! Michael Arroyo's finish cuts the #usmnt's lead in half. #USAvECU #MyCopaColors https://t.co/oP8SoWhhNq— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 17, 2016
The Ecuadorians threw everything they had at the Americans, and Enner Valencia will rue his missed header from point-blank range in the dying moments. John Brooks almost turned in the equalizer for Ecuador, his missed clearance was deflected wide by Guzan.
At the final whistle, the U.S. flooded the field to celebrate, but that celebration will be short-lived. Jones will miss the semifinals due to his red card and Bobby Wood and Bedoya will as well, thanks to yellow card accumulation. On the plus side, the U.S. will get DeAndre Yedlin back from his one-game suspension.
The Yanks will head to Houston for the semifinals on Tuesday, June 21 at 9 p.m. ET, where they will face the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal match-up between Argentina and Venezuela. OK, it's probably going to be Lionel Messi and Argentina.