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USMNT Defends Their Hot Streak while Jozy Keeps it Cool

Jozy Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Not even the 87-degree weather could stop over 31,000 people to come see USMNT face El Salvador in a quarterfinal match of CONCACAF’s Gold Cup in Philadelphia.

With that being said, as soon as the match started the team looked obviously looked hot but mixed with weak and sloppy. Even head coach Bruce Arena and midfielder Paul Arriola agreed about their team playing poorly. Yet, lady luck was on their side and the USMNT was able to score 2 goals and move on into the semifinals against Costa Rica.

After the match, Arreola stated,

“We didn’t play the best but at the end of the day you’re in a quarterfinals match and you need to win and that is what we did.”

Before the goals were scored, the team indeed looked bad. They could not keep possessions and thank goodness Tim Howard is great at his job because there were some scary moments where the USMNT could have conceded a goal. In the 3’, Arriola attempt to score from deep but was blocked, then the ball ricocheted to the other side of the field where El Salvador’s Rodolfo Zelaya was able to run past USMNT players to chase after the ball. Zelaya was about to go 1v1 versus Howard, for he ran out his box, but thankfully Howard was able to get to the ball first.

Once defender Omar Gonzalez scored a header at the 41’, things started to pick up for the team. It was a free kick, taken by captain Michael Bradley, that got the ball positioned in front of the net and by Gonzalez’s head. Being 6’5, Gonzalez got to the ball first when it was in the air putting it in the back of the net.

The second goal was made by Eric Licha during the 4 minutes of added stoppage time. Clint Dempsey made a superb pass to Lichaj between two defenders that gave Lichaj his first goal for the U.S. Lichaj was at the right place at the right time and used his left foot to take a shot from the left side of the box to the center of the net. It was a great way to end the first half.

No goals were made during the second half so the match ended 2-0 but a memorable thing did happen: El Salvador’s Henry Romero was caught, not by the referees at the time, twisting Jozy Altidore’s nipples and biting him on the shoulders. Altidore did not make a huge deal about the incident during the match and went on to help the USMNT win over El Salvador.

“It’s never happened before, but in CONCACAF, it never ceases to amaze me,” Altidore said after the match. “You got to keep your cool”.

But Arriola wasn’t surprised by this action.

“The guys don’t know what to do and try to get into his head,” he said. “luckily being in CONCACAF, I play in Mexico, so I understand the physicality. I don’t know what goes through their heads about doing dirty tackles or dirty bites or whatever they were doing, but I mean Jozy is a monster. Some of these guys, they gotta try to do whatever they can, I guess, to take him down”.

So far, nothing has been able to tear Altidore and the USMNT down since Arena’s arrival for the team still has not suffered a loss with with him.

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