United States 2 Ecuador 1: Seattle hero Dempsey seals semi spot


The United States sealed their spot in the semi-finals of the Copa America Centenario following a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday. 

Clint Dempsey was the hero for the Copa hosts, scoring once and setting up Gyasi Zardes as USA continued their dream run. 

Ecuador hit back in the second half through Michael Arroyo, but the South Americans could not find the vital equaliser at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

However, both sides were forced to play the majority of the second period with 10 men after Jermaine Jones and Antonio Valencia were sent off for USA and Ecuador respectively. 

The win means USA will face the winner of Argentina and Venezuela next Tuesday in Houston for a spot in the final.

USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann only needed to make one change from the side that beat Paraguay 1-0, with Matt Besler coming in for the suspended DeAndre Yedlin. 

Ecuador counterpart Gustavo Quinteros also made just the one change, with the injured Jaime Ayovi replaced in the line-up by Arroyo. 

The opening 15 minutes of the contest were tight, with both sides easing their way into the game with so much at stake, looking to avoid errors.

The first chance on goal fell to Bobby Wood in the 17th minute, but he was off balance as he looked to score, with his tame effort going well wide.

Arroyo went down the other end and had a powerful shot just miss the target, but it was USA who took the lead in the 22nd minute.

Wood managed to find Jones who whipped in a first-time cross, and Dempsey made no mistake with the leaping header, giving Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez no chance. 

Dempsey had a chance to double the lead five minutes later but Dominguez got down well to save his fierce shot, before John Brooks came up big to block an Arroyo shot.

A counter-attack on the stroke of half-time gave Dempsey the chance to play in Alejandro Bedoya, but Dominguez was there again to provide the save off the Nantes midfielder. 

Ecuador almost found an equaliser in first-half stoppage time but Brad Guzan produced a brilliant save to deny Arroyo, keeping USA ahead going into the break. 

The South Americans started the second period brightly and should have equalised when Antonio Valencia flicked on a header for namesake Enner, but he could not direct a diving header on target.

The game was then turned on its head a few minutes later when both Jones and Antonio Valencia were sent off after a bizarre sequence of events.

Antonio Valencia kicked out at Bedoya to pick up a second yellow, before Jones was shown a straight red for apparently punching an Ecuadorian player in the resulting melee. 

With both sides reduced to 10 men, it was USA who resumed control of the match after Dempsey's scuffed shot was tapped in by Zardes in the 65th minute.

Ecuador did not back down, however, and a free-kick variation from Walter Ayovi set up Arroyo to blast home an equaliser with a ferocious shot from outside the area in the 74th minute. 

Quinteros' men continued to threaten, and Enner Valencia had two glorious chances to score within the space of a minute, but directed both of his headers wide. 

However, their push for an equaliser came to nothing, and USA held on to reach just their second semi-final in the continental competition.