PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The United States advanced to the quarterfinals of the Copa America, getting a first-half goal from Clint Dempsey and surviving DeAndre Yedlin’s early second-half ejection to beat Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday night.
Dempsey scored his 51st international goal in the 27th minute, but the Americans’ defense was upended just three minutes into the second half.
Yedlin got his first yellow in the 47th for a slide tackle from the side into Miguel Almiron near the center circle and then when play resumed raised a foot and charged into Miguel Samudio near a sideline. Chilean referee Julio Bascunan immediately gave a second yellow, and Yedlin lifted both arms wide as if to say, why me?
Michael Orozco entered to play right back in the 50th, and Dempsey came off as the U.S. prepared to survive an onslaught. With Paraguay applying pressure, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann repeatedly turned to try to spur on the crowd of 51,041.
American goalkeeper Brad Guzan made an outstanding body stop on a short-range shot in the 82nd minute, then made a kick save on an attempt off the rebound. Gustavo Gomez put the ball past Guzan in the 89th but whistled for offside.
Hosting a special 100th anniversary of South America’s championship, the U.S. (2-1) will finish first or second in Group A depending on the result of Colombia’s match against Costa Rica later Saturday and will play a quarterfinal against Brazil, Peru or Ecuador at Seattle or East Rutherford, New Jersey. Colombia also clinched a knockout stage berth.
Paraguay (0-2-1), which lost to Argentina in the semifinals of last year’s Copa America, was eliminated.
With the Americans playing their third game in nine days, Klinsmann started the same lineup for the third straight game — something done only once before in U.S. national team history, in its three matches at the 1930 World Cup.
Gyasi Zardes created the goal when he received a pass from Michael Bradley, ran down the left flank and slowed. Marked by Paulo Da Silva, who made his record 137th appearance for Paraguay, and Victor Ayala, Zardes spurted to the endline and crossed. Dempsey sprinted into the penalty area as trailing runner and from 8 yards one-timed a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Justo Villar.
Dempsey scored for the second straight game and is six goals shy of Landon Donovan’s American record.
Paraguay had a chance to go ahead in the 11th minute after American left back Fabian Johnson missed a tackle, creating a 3-on-1 break with only defender John Brooks and Guzan to beat. Brooks made an outstanding slide tackle in the penalty area to knock the ball away from Almiron.
Guzan made a sliding save on Dario Lezcano at the edge of the 6-yard-box in the 45th after the forward made a run that split Brooks and Geoff Cameron.
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