PHILADELPHIA – The United States defeated Curaçao, 1-0, to advance to the Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals behind Weston McKennie’s 25th-minute tally Sunday.
The victory, in front of 26,233 fans at Lincoln Financial Field, was a USMNT record ninth in a row in Gold Cup action.
The win earned the USA a semifinal date with Jamaica, which defeated Panama 1-0 in the day’s earlier match. They will meet in Nashville, Tenn. July 3.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter returned to the starting XI that began the opening pair of Group D matches, handing the captain’s armband to midfielder Christian Pulisic for the first time in 2019 – the ninth player to captain the U.S. this year.
The U.S. started strong with two chances in the opening five minutes. The first came after a long dribble from Pulisic, who shot just wide form the top of the box. A nice passing sequence then scythed through the Curaçao defense as Paul Arriola fed the ball to Pulisic on the door step and his shot was brushed over the crossbar by goalkeeper Eloy Room.
Curaçao grew into the game, amassing some decent possession.
In the 25th minute, however, Pulisic teamed up with fellow 20-year-old McKennie to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Pulisic collected a long ball into the left corner, beat his man 1 v 1 and clipped an inch-perfect cross to the back right post for McKennie to nod home his second career goal and first in the Gold Cup. The assist was Pulisic’s third of this competition, tying him with Canada’s Alphonso Davies for the tournament lead.
The USA nearly added to its lead on multiple occasions in the second half. The best of which fell early to Pulisic, who got free near the top of the box but saw his shot roll just wide of the left post.
Although Curaçao enjoyed the possession in the second half, the island nation was unable to create many quality opportunities inside the box as the U.S. defense limited Caribbean to one shot.
On Curaçao’s best opportunity to tie the match, a rocket from Leandro Bacuna postmarked for the upper left corner, goalkeeper Zack Steffen made an acrobatic one-handed save in the 84th minute to keep the visitors off the board.
The shutout win that tied the USA’s record for most consecutive clean sheets in a Gold Cup tournament (four).