The United States has advanced to the final of the 2017 Gold Cup after a phenomenal cameo from Texan Clint Dempsey helped the United States to a 2-0 win over Costa Rica at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night.
After a strong save from Tim Howard, the United States countered beautifully, running down the left and allowing Texan Clint Dempsey to play the ball through for Jozy Altidore. The winger was able to beat the offside trap and his defender, running in from the left, and shooting across the face to score the opening goal of the match.
“I was just trying to give him a good weighted ball, he still had some work to do, and Jozy (Altidore) did the rest.” Said Dempsey.
The Texan crowd was able to cheer their home state hero in the 82nd minute when Dempsey turned goal scorer. A free kick just outside the box allowed Dempsey to step up and he curled it around the nearside of the wall, bamboozling Pemberton in the Costa Rica goal, and equalling the record for most goals by a United States men’s national team player.
“I had a lot of family, so it was very special, it was bigger than me,” said Dempsey after the match. “Couldn’t have pictured a better scenario, scoring, and getting an assist to help us to the final.”
The United States got off to a flier as they played it quickly down the right, catching Costa Rica out in the opening minute. The ball was played wide to Jordan Morris, who shot powerfully, beating Patrick Pemberton but only coming off the post.
It could have been 1-0 in the 15th minute when Jozy Altidore made a strong run up the right hand side, getting to the by line. Altidore had just enough space to cut it back to Kellyn Acosta who just couldn’t get a strong enough shot away, sending it high and wide as he fell under pressure.
Costa Rica had their first chance of the match in the 22nd minute as the ball was played trough to David Ramirez. Ramirez cut in to the box, but his shot was deflected, allowing Tim Howard to cut back and grab the ball out of the air and clear.
In the 37th minute it was only Howard who was saving the United States as he made a save with his feet at full stretch. Marcos Urena made a run, cutting through the United States defense, and shot low, but Howard stuck his leg out just enough to save it and deflect it away.
After the United States dominated the first 20 minutes of the first half, that flipped in the final 20 minutes as Costa Rica started looking dangerous after their initial defensive posture.
It should have been 1-0 in the 52nd minute when Pemberton came rushing out of his goal but the United States played the ball around. The cross was over hit yet again, which allowed Costa Rica to get the ball clear.
A free kick gave Costa Rica their clearest chance of the match in the 65th minute as the ball was played in to Giancarlo Gonzalez. Gonzalez leaped the highest and headed away powerfully, but could only send it over the bar.
The United States responded quickly, rushing down on a counter attack with Altidore receiving the ball outside the area. Given enough space to shoot he did so, with some venom, but put it too close to Pemberton who saved well.
Howard had to be at his absolute best in the 71st minute to deny a quick break from Costa Rica, diving at full stretch. It came to deny a perfect run from Marco Urena, and it would end up being crucial as the United States scored one minute later.