Vines, Acosta, Lewis and Rest of USMNT Are Finals Bound After Defeating Qatar
AUSTIN, Texas - The U.S. Men's National Team is heading to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Final after defeating Qatar 1-0 on an 86th-minute goal from Gyasi Zardes on Thursday night at a sold-out Q2 Stadium. Posting its fourth shutout in five matches, the USA has reached a record 12th Gold Cup Final.
The win marked the USA's eighth-straight victory, tied for the second-longest winning streak since the team won 12 in-a-row from June 2 to Aug.14, 2013. The victory was also the 25th under head coach Gregg Berhalter, who has reached the mark faster than any other USMNT head coach.
Facing a Qatar side that had scored a tournament-high 12 goals, the USA started the same XI that defeated Jamaica on Sunday night, bringing out the same starting line-up in back-to-back matches for the first time at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
An invited tournament guest, the reigning Asian Football Confederation champion was not shy on the attack for much of the first half, outshooting the USA 13-3, but only managing two shots on goal. U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner and the defense were up to the task, with Turner making a highlight-reel save at the 21st-minute mark. The USA did well in possession but struggled getting clear chances in the final third.
In the second half, the USA started finding its feet offensively, but it was Qatar that nearly opened the scoring after James Sands tripped Akram Afif inside the box and VAR confirmed the penalty kick. Despite the opportunity from the spot, Qatar captain Hasan Al Haydos sailed the shot over the crossbar.
Berhalter made a number of changes to ramp up the attack, and it wasÂ three substitutes thatÂ combined for the game-winner as Nicolas Gioacchini and Eryk Williamson combined to set up Zardes for the game's lone goal. The tally was Zardes's 14th for the USMNT and sixth all-time in the Gold Cup.
The USA will now face Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 1 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA - GYASI ZARDES (NICOLAS GIAOCCHINI), 86th minute:Â Three second-half substitutes combined for the game's only goal. From the left channel,Â GiaocchiniÂ played it to Eryk Wiliamson at the top of the arc. Williamson passed back to Giaocchini through traffic and the forward did well to pass with the outside of his right foot to the on-rushing Zardes, who slid forward from seven yards out to put the ball past Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham for the game-winning goal.Â USA 1, QAT 0
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYS AND SAVES:
USA - MATT TURNER, 19th minute:Â QatarÂ fired shots frequently in the first half and the approach nearly proved fruitful. Khoukhi Boualem ripped one from 30-plus yards out that appeared to be headed wide left, but it caught the toe of U.S. center back James Sands, sending the ball toward the near post. Always alert, Turner dove to his right to finger-tip save the errant ball wide.
USA - MATT TURNER, 21st minute:Â Just minutes later Turner was called upon again to deny Qatar from point-blank. Akram Afif's shot from the top of the box was blocked by Gianluca Busio. The ball carried forward into the six, where Abdelaziz Hatim lunged forward and directed the ball towards goal with his left. Turner came off his line quickly and from two yards out made a reaction save with his left hand to deflect the ball away from goal and keep the game scoreless.
QAT - MESHAAL BARSHAM, 52nd minute:Â Matthew Hoppe played a beautiful curling pass from the left flank into the center of the box beyond the defense and into the path of Daryl Dike. The U.S. forward hit it first-time, but Barsham came off his line to cut the angle and made a leg save from the penalty spot to deny Dike.
Tonight's Starting XI had an average age of 23 years, 284 days, which stands as the third-youngest USMNT lineup in a Knockout Round match after last month's Concacaf Nations League Semifinal against Honduras (23 years, 259 days) and Sunday's Gold Cup Quarterfinal against Jamaica (23 years, 280 days).
Goalkeeper Matt Turner as well as defenders Shaq Moore and Miles Robinson started for the fifth-straight match. Turner and Robinson have played every minute for the USMNT at the 2021 Gold Cup
After making his return to the USMNT in last December's friendly win against El Salvador, midfielder Kellyn Acosta appeared in his 13th-consecutive match for the USA tonight. Acosta is the only player to appear in each of the USA's 12 games in 2021.
Sebastian Lletget captained the USMNT for the second time tonight. The veteran midfielder wore the armband for the first time in his career during the USA's 1-0 win against Haiti to open the Gold Cup group stage on July 11.
The USMNT is 25-6-3 in 33 matches under Gregg Berhalter. He has reached 25 victories faster than any other USMNT head coach
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