The United States is going to play for the Gold Cup title and it’s all thanks to a Columbus Crew player. Black & Gold striker Gyasi Zardes tapped in the winning goal in the 87th minute to clinch a 1-0 win for the USMNT against Qatar in the semifinal match at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. The goal ensures the Americans will play in Sunday’s Gold Cup final at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Qatar had the first great chance of the game after a giveaway by James Sands. The New York City FC defender passed it right to a Qatar midfielder who found star striker Almoez Ali open right outside the penalty box. Ali pulled his shot wide of goalkeeper Matt Turner as the Asian champions showed their talent early.
The United States' first chance was in the 11th minute as forward Matthew Hoppe forced Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham to spill a shot, forcing a save from a rebound shot by Paul Arriola. The D.C. United forward was later ruled offside.
USMNT relied on the heroics of Turner in net to keep them in the first half. The New England Revolution goalkeeper stepped up to make two incredible fingertip saves within two minutes of each other. Turner’s saves helped to develop some momentum for the Americans as they began to confidently keep possession in the middle of the half.
As the half continued on, Qatar played like the better team with direct passing leading to plenty more shots. The Maroon outshot the USMNT in the first half 13 to 3 with the Americans lucky not to be down heading into the locker room.
The second half was full of energy and a massive moment in the match came in the 53rd minute. Qatar began a counter attack after an American corner and a tackle was made by Sands in the penalty box on a Qatar attacker. Play stopped three minutes later and on the replay, it showed Sands made contact with the official going back and awarding the Maroon a penalty after VAR.
After another three minutes of talking and shoving from the USA and Qatar players, Hassan Al-Haydos stepped up and tried a chip Panenka penalty down the middle of the goal. He kicked it over the bar to keep the game scoreless with 30 minutes to go. Zardes was subbed into the game in the 62nd minute for Daryl Dike after the penalty miss.
The United States felt a burst of energy after Al-Haydos’ miss and pressed with quicker attacks in the second-half. The moment finally came in the 87th minute as the Columbus striker made a run into the 18-yard box after a Qatar giveaway and tapped in the winner.
Zardes’ second goal of the Gold Cup proved to be the one to take the United States to the final on Sunday. The win is the fourth of the tournament for the USMNT by a 1-0 scoreline and the third straight.
The Crew striker and the Americans will head to Vegas this weekend for the final and a chance to win the USMNT its first Gold Cup since 2017. The USA will play the winner of the second semifinal between Mexico and Canada. Mexico beat the United States in the 2019 Gold Cup final.