A shirtless Jozy Altidore celebrates breaking a personal 10-game scoring drought at the international level. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)
ARLINGTON, Texas — There’s still some magic left in Clint Dempsey’s feet.
Coming off the bench in the second half, the Seattle Sounders striker set up the first goal and struck for the insurance tally to lift the United States to a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at AT&T Stadium Saturday night.
“It means an opportunity for us to go to the final to win a trophy,” Dempsey told FS1. “Coming back from two heart procedures, being out, still playing at this level, living a dream. So I’m happy.”
Dempsey, who came on for Paul Arriola in the 66th minute, fed Jozy Altidore for his goal in the 72nd minute before scoring his own off a 22-yard free kick 10 minutes later.
“As you can all notice, Clint made a difference when he came in the game,” U.S. head coach Bruce Arena said.
Altidore snapped a personal 10-game scoreless streak at the international level, dating back to last September.
“I was just confident when I got onto the ball, trying to create for my teammates and try to create for myself,” Dempsey said. “I was able to get a good ball from [Darlington] Nagbe, and get a turn. Jozy made a good run and I was able to find him.
“I saw the people cheating a little bit and it went in,” Dempsey said about his free-kick goal.
Dempsey’s goal tied him with Landon Donovan for first place on the USA’s all-time scoring list with 57 goals apiece.
“It’s a fabulous record for any player to have with his national team,” Arena said. “For Clint to tie the record held by Landon, who is such a well known figure in the history of U.S. soccer, is tremendous. I know it was something that was important to Clint. To score that goal in a big game I’m sure makes it even more special for him.”
The Americans will play the winner of Sunday night’s semifinal between defending champion Mexico and Jamaica at the Rose Bowl, in Santa Clara, Calif. Wednesday night.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard registered his 41st career international shutout and 60th win.
The triumph also extended coach Bruce Arena’s unbeaten streak to 13 games (8-0-5) since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann as coach.
“It’s important for us, for confidence on home soil to be able to win a tournament,” Demspey said. “But also pushing us towards World Cup qualiying games. We have four games left. It’s important for us to get wins at home. Also get something on the road to qualify for Russia. It would be a boost for that.”
USA – Jozy Altidore (Clint Dempsey) 72nd minute
USA – Clint Dempsey 82
USA: 24-Tim Howard; 19-Graham Zusi, 3-Omar González, 5-Matt Besler, 2-Jorge Villafaña; 20-Paul Arriola (28-Clint Dempsey, 66), 23-Kelly Acosta (13-Dax McCarty, 85), 26-Michael Bradley (capt.), 25-Darlington Nagbe; 8-Jordan Morris, 27-Jozy Altidore (9-Gyasi Zardes, 83)
Subs not used: 12-Bill Hamid, 4-Matt Miazga, 7-Chris Pontius, 10-Joe Corona, 15-Eric Lichaj, 16-Justin Morrow, 18-Juan Agudelo, 21-Matt Hedges, 29-Jesse González
Head coach: Bruce Arena
CRC: 18-Patrick Pemberton; 6-José Salvatierra (14-Randall Azofeifa, 78), 3-Giancarlo González, 2-Johnny Acosta, 24-Kendall Waston, 15-Francisco Calvo; 10-Bryan Ruiz (capt.), 20-David Guzmán (25-José Leitón, 80), 17-Yeltsin Tejeda (5-Kenner Gutiérrez, 74), 7-David Ramírez; 21-Marco Ureña
Subs not used: 23-Dany Carvajal, 1- Leonel Moreira, 16-Christian Gamboa, 26-Jhamir Ordain, 8-Bryan Oviedo, 4-Michael Umaña, 22-Juan Pablo Vargas, 12-Joel Campbell, 27-Jimmy Marín, 19-Ulises Segura, 14-Rodney Wallace, 9-Ariel Rodríguez, 11-Johan Venegas
Head Coach: Oscar Ramírez
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 10 / 7
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 20 / 15
Offside: 1 / 2
USA – Omar González (caution) 61st minute
CRC – Giancarlo González (caution) 67
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) 72
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: William Torres (SLV)
Fourth Official: César Ramos (MEX)
Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey