A goal from Sounders star Clint Dempsey was enough Saturday night to propel the U.S. Men’s National Team over Paraguay in Philadelphia and into the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario Thursday at CenturyLink Field against Ecuador, ranked 13th in the world by FIFA.
Dempsey scored his 51st international goal in the 27th minute and then the U.S. had to hold on in the second half a man down. DeAndre Yedlin, Dempsey’s former teammate in Seattle and a graduate of O’Dea High School, received two yellow cards starting in the 47th minute for a slide tackle, then another foul moments later. He was ejected and will not play in his Seattle homecoming.
The win gave USMNT the top spot in Group A and Seattle backers of the Copa tourney a big boost. The presence of the USMNT in a senior tournament should drive up the gate for the Thursday game whose participants were not known until Saturday.
Costa Rica, which lost 4-0 to the U.S., surprised favored Colombia 3-2 in Houston Saturday. The U.S. and Columbia tied with six points but the Americans won the group on goal difference. Both advance to the knockout round.
Ecuador, a team USMNT beat 16 days earlier, will come to Seattle, one of 10 host cities for the 100th anniversary edition of the South American championship.
Tourney favorite Argentina, with Leo Messi healthy enough to at least play a reserve role in a win Friday, will play Bolivia at the Clink Tuesday.