U.S. overcomes Paraguay, clinches spot in Copa quarters

Clint Dempsey (pictured) celebrates after scoring the only goal in the USA's Copa America Centenario win over Paraguay on June 11, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Photo: Mexsport)


PHILADELPHIA – The United States (2W-0D-1L, 6 points) clinched a berth in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Paraguay (0-1-2, 1) on Saturday before a crowd of 51,041 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Americans’ final placement in Group A will be decided after table-topping Colombia faces Costa Rica later in the evening in Houston.

Clint Dempsey scored in the first half to put the U.S. in front, before teammate DeAndre Yedlin was sent off early in the second half. Paraguay was eliminated in the group stage for only the second time in the last 10 editions of Copa America.

The decisive moment came in the 27th minute, as Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes won the ball near midfield. Zardes broke to the left-goal line and rolled a cross toward the penalty spot, where Dempsey placed it past Justo Villar for his second goal of the tournament.

Paraguay had a chance in the 11th minute, attacking three-on-one. U.S. center-back John Brooks thwarted the sequence by tackling Miguel Almiron.

Brad Guzan made one save in the first half, denying Dario Lezcano. He finished with seven total saves, including one in the 82nd minute, when Jorge Benitez picked up a Brooks block and scuffed a shot at the custodian, who did well to react to Almiron’s hard-hit follow.

The U.S. will face the Group B champion or runner-up in the first knockout round.