Following a dramatic 2-2 draw in extra time, Matt Turner saved two penalties to help USMNT defeat Canada in a shootout before a raucous 24,979 fans at TQL Stadium.
After a near scoreless phase of regular time, the USMNT grabbed an 88th-minute lead via a signature header from second-half substitute Brandon Vazquez, playing front of his FC Cincinnati home fans. The advantage slipped away four minutes later in second-half stoppage time when a penalty kick from Canadian defender Steven Vitoria sent the game into extra time. Canada took the lead in extra time as forward Jacob Shaffelburg found the back of the net in the 109th minute, only for U.S. midfielder Gianluca Busio to force an own goal off Canada’s Scott Kennedy five minutes later.
In the penalty kick shootout, Matt Turner made saves on Canada’s first two attempts, while the USA’s Cade Cowell, Busio and Jesús Ferreira converted their spot kicks to push the team to the semifinal.
USA 2 Canada 2 (USA win on pens).
The game began in unusual – and unfortunate – circumstances. Assistant referee Christian Espinosa of Mexico was forced out of the game after being hit in the face with a fiercely struck ball in the first minute. After an extended delay, the game continued as Caleb Wales of Trinidad and Tobago – who ran the line for the day’s earlier quarterfinal between Guatemala and Jamaica – took over the flag.
In a disjointed first half defined by tension and caution, the USA carved out the first chance when a Julian Gressel corner kick in the 26th minute bounced dangerously around the Canadian penalty area. Jesús Ferreira – hunting his seventh goal in three games at this Gold Cup – pounced on the loose ball eight yards from goal and shot on the turn. His effort was blocked by sprawling Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio.
Canada’s best chance of the first half came three minutes into the 12 minutes of stoppage time. The U.S. defense stumbled to open space up the right flank for forward Junior Hoilett, whose low cross was turned over the crossbar by U.S. defender Bryan Reynolds.
The half ended with another dangerous moment in the U.S. penalty area. A delayed VAR review for a potential handball on Miles Robinson was eventually waved off due to an earlier push by defender Moise Bombito on Busio in the build-up to defender’s Zack McGraw’s on-target header.
Heavy U.S. pressure led to a golden opportunity for Busio in the 69th minute. Collecting a low pass from Gressel at the top of the box, the midfielder took a clever touch past a defender before the ball popped loose. It fell back to him and his low shot forced a fine save from Canada goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair at full stretch.
Six minutes later, FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez – whose entry as a second-half substitute drew a resounding roar from the local fans– hit just wide. His outside-of-the-foot effort from the edge of the area after a searching ball from Cade Cowell went just a whisper wide of the post.
The USA’s breakthrough finally came in the 88th minute and it was the local hero Vazquez who raced in behind the Canadian defense to head home an inch-perfect cross from left back DeJuan Jones. It would not stand as the winner thanks to a swift response from Canada. Two minutes into second-half stoppage time, Robinson was whistled for a handball inside the U.S. box. The referee pointed to the spot and Vitoria – who had been caught flat-footed on Vazquez’s goal –hit his kick down the middle and past Turner to force extra time.
Canada substitute Shaffelburg found the back of the net in the 109th minute against the run of play. The Nashville SC attacker picked up the ball in his own half, wriggled past Ferreira and backed up defender Matt Miazga before his low shot was deflected and nestled in the back of Turner’s net.
The back-and-forth business continued as extra time wore on. Busio carved out another opening in the 115th minute as a pair of flicked-on headers from Miazga and forward Jordan Morris landed at the feet of the Venezia midfielder. St. Clair cleared his effort from danger, but only as far as Kennedy, the nearest Canadian defender, which sent the ball bundling into his own goal.
With the score tied at 2-2 after extra time, a penalty shootout was needed to send its winner to the semifinals. U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner saved the first two Canadian kicks from Vitoria and midfielder Liam Fraser. While Vazquez put his opening attempt over the bar, forward Cade Cowell, Busio and Ferreira all hit the net. The game ended when forward Charles-Andreas Brym hit the crossbar with the final Canada attempt, triggering huge celebrations as the U.S. advanced to its 16th Gold Cup semifinal.
With the win, the USMNT advances to face Panama in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals on Wednesday, July 12 at SnapDragon Stadium in San Diego, Calif. (7:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, TUDN).