Clint Dempsey scored for the third straight game on a first-half header and set up Gyasi Zardes for a tap-in goal midway through the second half, boosting the United States into the Copa America semifinals with a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday night.
Playing before a boisterous and almost completely partisan home crowd in the soccer-mad Pacific Northwest, the U.S. won a knockout game against a nation outside its region for only the second time and will play Argentina or Venezuela on Tuesday in Houston.
It’s the Americans’ first Copa America semifinal appearance since 1995.
American midfielder Jermaine Jones and Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia were both ejected early in the second half.
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Jones will be suspended for the semifinal along with U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and forward Bobby Wood, who both got their second yellow cards of the tournament.
Dempsey’s 52nd international goal, five behind Landon Donovan’s American record, put the U.S. ahead in the 22nd minute. Zardes guided Dempsey’s cross into the net in the 65th minute for a 2-0 lead.
Dempsey, who plays for the Seattle Sounders in the MLS, drew massive applause on both plays.
Michael Arroyo scored for Ecuador in the 74th minute, and Enner Valencia missed a pair of great chances moment later on a pair of headers.
Ecuador was putting on pressure in the last 10 minutes of the game, but the U.S. was able to squash attack after attack.
Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler started for the Americans, making his first appearance of the Copa America competition, but he played left outside back rather than his typical position of center back.
Besler has not played left back with Sporting KC since his rookie season in 2009. He played the full 90 minutes Thursday.
Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi entered the match as a substitute in the 81st minute.
The U.S. is now 3-1 in the tournament after beating Costa Rica and Paraguay in the group stage.