The United States is now one win away from the Copa America final after the Americans defeated Ecuador 2-1 on Thursday night in quarterfinal action at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Clint Dempsey scored the game's first goal, and the Americans tacked on another midway through the second half. Ecuador had a late goal, but it wasn't enough.
U.S. Soccer reacted after the match went final.
With a spot in the Copa America semifinal on the line, it was the Red, White and Blue who struck first in this all-important quarterfinal matchup.
Jermaine Jones delivered the ball from the top of the box and accurately placed it so Dempsey could head it in for the game's first score, via Fox Soccer:
U.S. Soccer reacted to the goal that got the American-favored crowd excited:
Andy Glockner from The Cauldron also thought it was a goal that was perfect all the way around:
This was expected to be an even game once it started, and Ecuador made that possible despite Dempsey's opening goal. Ecuador managed to get some shots on goal, but the American defense did more than enough to keep the ball out of the net.
Even though the Ecuadorians tried to level the game, recent success suggested the U.S. would be in control, per Paul Carr of ESPN.com:
Even going into the second half, the Americans continued to let the game flow at their pace. Ecuador had trouble getting any quality shots off from the start, while the U.S. wasn't trying to press the issue. Its patient passing and ball movement were major keys.
That paid off in the 65th minute, when Gyasi Zardes gave the United States a two-score lead thanks to a great pass by Dempsey, per U.S. Soccer:
Ecuador didn't go away, though. Michael Arroyo drilled home a goal in the 74th minute to cut the lead in half. But despite Ecuador's best efforts to increase the pace, it couldn't tie the game. That sets up a possible semifinal matchup with Lionel Messi and Argentina for the Americans.
The United States is a hot-and-cold team. It'll either start hot and win like it did Thursday night, or it'll start slow and fall into trouble. If the Americans want to pull off the upset against Argentina, they'll need to make sure they stay hot.
U.S. Soccer provided this clip of the team returning to the hotel after the victory:
It was a historic day with the U.S. making the Copa America semis for the first time since 1995, and Dempsey couldn't be prouder of his teammates.
“These last two games they showed it. (We were) difficult to break down and showed a lot of heart really," Dempsey said, per Nicholas Mendola of Pro Soccer Talk. "We keep going, and we’re in the semifinals of a major competition. “It’s always great to do it at home, and to do it for the States. It’s what you dream about as a kid. I’m blessed."
The Seattle Sounders striker didn't disappoint in front of his home fans, and his manager was proud of his superstar's win, per U.S. Soccer:
But Jurgen Klinsmann knows the next task is not going to be easy.
"We've come so far now and now we get even hungrier for the next step," he said, per U.S. Soccer.