United States advances to Gold Cup semifinals, ousting Canada on penalty kicks

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By Samantha Rose

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner made two saves in a penalty shootout against Canada following a thrilling 2-2 draw as the hosts advanced to the semifinals of the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday in Cincinnati.

The USMNT will take on Panama next on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports app) in San Diego.

Here are three takeaways following Sunday’s match.

USMNT vs. Canada Highlights

USMNT vs. Canada Highlights

USMNT shows character in comeback win


After 88 scoreless minutes, the Americans thought they had the match won on pretty goal by second half substitute and FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vázquez. But Canada equalized just a few minutes later on a penalty kick by Steven Vitória, and the visitors seemed destined to advance in extra time when Jacob Shaffelburg put them up 2-1 with just seven minutes of the additional 30 remaining.

The U.S. appeared dead and buried at that point. But the home team had had the better of the play all night, outshooting Canada 21-5 (8-2 on target) by the time it was over, and that relentless pressure paid off when Reds defender Scott Kennedy inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net just a minute later to set up the spot kick tiebreaker.

Canada’s costly own goal evens the score against the USMNT in extra time

Canada's costly own goal evens the score against the USMNT in extra time

Turner, the only starter from the USMNT’s 2022 World Cup squad on this Gold Cup roster, wasn’t about to squander his opportunity to play hero.

“I just trusted my instincts really,” Turner told FOX Sports following the match, adding that the Canadian shooters he’d done his homework on had been substituted before the skills challenge commenced. “Typically when I do that, I find myself having a lot more success.”

The first of Turner’s two shootout saves came against Vitória, whose successful try from 12 yards in second-half stoppage time sent the contest to the extra session. The overwhelmingly pro-U.S. crowd at TQL Stadium fell silent when local hero Vázquez blasted the USA’s next effort over the crossbar, but Turner regained the advantage and the supporters’ confidence by stopping the next kicker, too.

The hosts coolly buried their next three attempts.

“He just really gave the entire group a sense of calm to go and execute,” U.S. interim head coach B.J. Callaghan said.

And it wasn’t just Turner. On a night when the shorthanded U.S. didn’t play particularly well and easily could’ve lost, they found a way to advance. Callaghan’s team will have to play better – much better – to achieve the Americans ultimate goal of repeating as Gold Cup champs. Either way, the fight they showed when all looked lost on Sunday will surely serve these players well for the rest of the tournament – and beyond.

What a game

Eventually, anyway. It took the U.S. forever to get going in this one, giving Canada the chance to slowly but surely grow into the game as time wore on.

“For us, I thought it was a slow start,” Callaghan said. “I thought the entire first half just lacked rhythm and any tempo and any control.”

Part of that was due to the hard tackling, physical match that was playing out. And when the teams came together to exchange shoves before eventually walking off the field at the break, it was clear a spicy final 45 minutes (or more) were in store.

Whatever the second half lacked in quality, it made up for in drama, as two of CONCACAF’s four 2022 World Cup participants exchanged blows and near misses before Vázquez sent home what looked sure to be a storybook winner.

That three more goals would be scored before the game even got to penalties speaks to how nuts this one was. Give Canada plenty of credit, too. The Reds hadn’t been good at all in the group stage, and there was a sense that with both rivals missing their headliners, the U.S.’s depth would win the day with relative ease. It did in the end, but only by the thinnest possible margin. Make no mistake: While the U.S. has beaten them in two tournaments in the last three weeks, the Canadians are a worthy foe and one that is here to stay.

USMNT advanced past Canada via penalty shootout to move on to the Gold Cup semifinals

USMNT advanced past Canada via penalty shootout to move on to the Gold Cup semifinals

Tricky Panama awaits

Whether this was the most inspiring U.S. performance or not (and it wasn’t) means little now. The Americans must quickly recover and prepare for Panamanians, who easily dispatched invited guest Qatar on Saturday and will also have an extra day of rest.

“They’re a really good team. We’re familiar with them, we’ve played them a lot,” Callaghan said. “They’ve shown that they have depth, so we’re expecting a really competitive match against a well-organized, high-intensity team. We’re going to have to be at our best.”

After enjoying a full week off between the end of the group stage and Sunday’s quarterfinal, the Americans have just three days to recover before facing Los Canaleros.

“We have a quick turnaround [but] we’re a deep team,” Turner said. “It shouldn’t be a problem to turn our legs around in San Diego.”

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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