Gyasi Zardes winner propels USMNT to Gold Cup final

Gyasi Zardes winner propels USMNT to Gold Cup final

2021 Concacaf Gold Cup

Gyasi Zardes winner propels USMNT to Gold Cup final

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Saved in the early going by jaw-dropping heroics from Matt Turner, and boosted by a quintet of effective second-half substitutes, the U.S. men’s national team shook off a poor start and put together the kind of impressive finish that now has the young squad one win away from a trophy.

Gyasi Zardes’ came off the bench and scored in the 86th minute to lift the USMNT to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Qatar.

The win propels the Americans into Sunday’s Gold Cup final, where they will face Mexico, which defeated Canada, 2-1, to set up a rematch of the 2019 Gold Cup final won by Mexico.

The Americans took control of the match in the final 30 minutes, propelled by the energy brought in by a flurry of substitutions. Zardes, Eryk Williamson, Nicholas Gioacchini, Cristian Roldan and Reggie Cannon came on in the second half and helped the USMNT take control as Qatar began to tire.

That control led to the game’s only goal, in the 86th minute, when Williamson found Gioacchini with a pass on the left flank. Gioacchini slipped a perfect pass toward the front of goal, where Zardes finished the chance for the winning finish.

The Americans very nearly fell behind in the second half when James Sands was called for a penalty foul after a VAR review of a challenge in the penalty area. Qatar’s Hassan Al-Haydos stepped up to take the penalty, and after hesitating in his run-up to get a read on Turner, Al-Haydos proceeded to send his kick over the crossbar in the 61st minute.

Qatar came into the match as the highest-scoring team in the Gold Cup, and showed why in the first half, as the reigning Asian champions pressured the USMNT defense early on, creating a plethora of chances.

It took the heroics of Matt Turner to keep the Qataris from taking the lead, as the New England Revolution goalkeeper made some trio of big saves, including one to prevent an own-goal, and another on a close-range blast.

The USMNT labored through the first half, managing to muster little in the attack as Daryl Dike struggled in the starting striker role for the third straight match.

The USMNT defense bent, but didn’t break though, as Miles Robinson and Sam Vines turned in strong shifts and James Sands shook off some early mistakes to close out the team’s fourth shutout in five matches.

Turner finished with three saves for his fourth shutout of the Gold Cup.

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