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USMNT Beats Qatar 1-0 to Advance to 2021 Gold Cup Final

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

Chuck Burton/Getty Images

The United States men's national team advanced to the final of the 2021 Gold Cup after beating Qatar 1-0 Thursday at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Gyasi Zardes delivered the winner in the 86th minute.

Nicholas Gioacchini dribbled to the left of goal and found the Columbus Crew star making a run toward the far post.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

ZARDES GIVES THE <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> THE LEAD! 🇺🇸 <a href="https://t.co/XAOESayrjh">pic.twitter.com/XAOESayrjh</a>

The United States still had to keep Qatar at bay for four more minutes of regulation and nine minutes of stoppage time.

This is the eighth time in nine years the U.S. will be assured of at least a runner-up finish in the Gold Cup.

Thirty-eight places separate the United States and Qatar in FIFA's official men's ranking. If you didn't know any better, you would've assumed Qatar was the higher ranked of the two based on how the match unfolded.

Especially in the first half, the Qataris were applying steady pressure in the final third and testing the American back line. Matt Turner somehow kept the match scoreless in the 21st minute with an incredible reaction save.

A deflection on a shot by Akram Afif caused the ball to fly up in the 18-yard box and put Turner in a difficult position. The U.S. goalkeeper remained on his line as Abdelaziz Hatim followed the ball and let go with a left-footed volley. Turner went full extension and knocked away the shot with his left hand.

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FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

WHAT A SAVE FROM <a href="https://twitter.com/headdturnerr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@headdturnerr</a> FOR THE <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> 🧤🤯 <a href="https://t.co/uoiLvttpBo">pic.twitter.com/uoiLvttpBo</a>

With the USMNT struggling to create true goalscoring opportunities, Qatar was once again poised to score in the in the 61st minute after being awarded a penalty.

James Sands initially got away with fouling Afif, but replay officials chose to take a second look. After having a view himself, the referee pointed to the spot.

This time around, Turner's services weren't required as Hassan Al-Haydos's shot sailed over the crossbar.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

QATAR MISSES 😱 <a href="https://t.co/aePfLElsZh">pic.twitter.com/aePfLElsZh</a>

In the immediate aftermath, the U.S. was unable to capitalize on the shift in momentum. But Gregg Berhalter's side was steadily wearing Qatar down and making progress toward an eventual breakthrough.

This pass from Matthew Hoppe in the 52nd minute preceding the penalty was a microcosm of the night for the United States. Hoppe placed his low cross perfectly into the path of Daryl Dike, who was unable to convert the finish.

U.S. Soccer MNT @USMNT

Picture perfect pass from <a href="https://twitter.com/MatthewHoppe9?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MatthewHoppe9</a>. 👀<br><br>🎥: <a href="https://twitter.com/FOXSoccer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FoxSoccer</a> <a href="https://t.co/RAikObgfo5">pic.twitter.com/RAikObgfo5</a>

Especially given the structure of the roster, the USMNT deserves credit for remaining composed and not panicking when the goal wouldn't come. That's not easy with a mix of youth and more experienced veterans who aren't used to playing together.

Ryan Rosenblatt, World Series Champion @RyanRosenblatt

I'm liking this USMNT performance. Qatar has been better than them, but they're supposed to be. The kids are doing some difficult things well, keeping their heads and playing with some nasty. This is great.

Zardes in particular may be playing his way onto the team Berhalter will be utilizing for 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

In general, the Gold Cup has been a great showcase for some of the up-and-comers and more experienced players with something to prove.


What's Next?

The United States awaits the winner of Mexico and Canada's semifinal to learn of its opponent for Sunday's final at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada.

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