CHICAGO (June 21, 2007) — Frankie Hejduk scored his first-ever Gold Cup goal and Landon Donovan moved one step away from history as the U.S. beat Canada 2-1 to advance to the championship final. Kasey Keller made three saves while earning his 100th career cap, tying the all-time appearance record set for goalkeepers set by Tony Meola. The U.S. gets the chance to defend their title Sunday, June 24 in Chicago. Kickoff at Soldier Field is set for 2 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Univision.
With the victory, the U.S. advances to their sixth Gold Cup final in nine tournaments. The USA will play against Mexico in the championship match for the third time in tournament history. Mexico advanced to Sunday’s match with a 1-0 win against Guadeloupe in the evening’s second semifinal on a Pavel Pardo blast in the second half.
"We are very excited to be in the final," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who improved to 9-0-1 since taking over in December. "As a group, we have worked very hard. When you play in these kind of tournaments, you have periods where the soccer is good. As a team you have to fight for each other and survive when the soccer isn't as good. And when you put it all together, it's what makes you a team. I feel very good that we are getting stronger, the mentality is getting better, and it is very important to be in the final."
The U.S. began the match applying pressure all over the field, searching for ways to unlock the Canadian defense. While winning most of the battles in the midfield and defense, chances at goal were difficult to come by.
Donovan got the first look at goal in the game’s opening moments, taking a shot from 25 yards that was saved by a diving Pat Onstad in the Canadian goal. On the quarter hour, a nice change of direction saw a ball played to Eddie Johnson at the top of the box. He cleverly dummied and allowed the ball through to Donovan, who laid a back pass to an onrushing Michael Bradley. His first-time effort lacked bite, and Onstad was there to collect.
At the other end, Canadian striker Dwayne De Rosario had a few speculative efforts at goal, their most dangerous chance of the half coming off a miscommunication between Keller and Oguchi Onyewu. A ball played over the top sparked a foot race between Onyewu and Ali Gerba. As the ball bounced towards the box, Keller charged off his line but expected the U.S. defender to be first to the ball. Onyewu slowed thinking Keller had the play, and Gerba took advantage of the confusion by getting a poke at the ball. Keller had closed the distance enough to block the ball out of bounds for a corner.
Keller’s 23rd Gold Cup appearance – also a U.S. team record – elevated the 37-year-old netminder to exactly 100 caps for the senior team, tying Tony Meola for the most for a U.S. goalkeeper and Meola and Joe-Max Moore for the eighth-most in U.S. history . He now has 52 career victories and will seek his third Gold Cup medal on Sunday.
"It was nice to get the 100th cap, but it was important to get the 100th cap and win and now to be able to go into the final and try and get another trophy,” Keller said “It's been a whole team effort for these five games so far, and I'm sure it's going to be another great effort for the final. We want to win this thing."
Hejduk broke the deadlock in the 39th minute on a play that began with a U.S. free kick. While Canada attempted to clear the cross, Pablo Mastroeni fought to keep the play alive, winning a tackle and playing into Donovan. He spun inside towards goal and dished off to Hejduk, who unleashed a low right-footed blast that banged off the inside of the left post and caromed into the back of the net. The goal was Hejduk’s first in five Gold Cup tournaments and sixth of his career, the defender getting on the scoresheet for the first time since June 11, 2000, a span of 47 matches.
The U.S. would double the lead just before halftime with Donovan converting his third penalty of the tournament. The USA earned the penalty when DaMarcus Beasley got on the end of a brilliant through ball by Clint Dempsey and attempted to dribble past Onstad.
With Beasley clearly gaining the upper hand, Onstad had no choice but to clip the legs of the speedy midfielder and referee Benito Archundia immediately pointing to the penalty spot. On the ensuing kick, Donovan fired right up the middle to record his 11th career Gold Cup and move within one of the all-time tournament record of 12 held by Luis Roberto Alves of Mexico. He now has 33 career international goals, just one behind the U.S. mark held by Eric Wynalda. The 25-year-old now has amassed 92 points in 93 international appearances.
Even as the second half began with both sides keeping things tight, the U.S. missed out on a golden chance to put the game out of reach. In the 52nd minute, an errant back pass put Beasley in one-on-one with Onstad. He spied Donovan joining the attack and played a through ball with a little too much weight behind it. From a tight angle, Donovan wound up to shoot but was unable to connect with the ball.
The Canadians marched straight down to the other end and got a look at goal, Ali Gerba’s shot from the top of the box being blocked away by a sliding Hejduk. The U.S. defender would be shown a yellow card in the 60th minute while defending himself against a head butt from DeRosario, forcing the Sierra Mist Man of the Match out of Sunday’s final.
Canada cut the lead in half in the 76th minute when substitute Iain Hume cut inside of Carlos Bocanegra and curled a shot into the far side netting. The goal was the first surrendered by Keller to Canada in four lifetime meetings, and set the stage for a dramatic finish.
Just three minutes later, an astounding goal line save by Hume kept Canada in the match. Donovan delivered a corner kick to the six yard box, where Dempsey rose and powered a header past Onstad. But Hume had held his position guarding the post, and craned his heel up to improbably block the shot off the line.
With one minute left in regulation time, Michael Bradley was ejected after tackling Juan de Guzman just near the center circle, putting the midfielder out of the championship match.
Canada furiously fought for the tying goal, and appeared to have earned it in the fourth minute of stoppage time when a shot from 30 plus yards hit off the head of defender Onyewu directly into the path of Atiba Hutchinson who cracked home a shot from 12 yards out in the 95th minute, only to be whistled offside. The controversial call was practically the last touch of the game.
The U.S. team remains in Chicago through the Gold Cup final. Just four days later, the U.S. will participate in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela. The U.S. has been drawn into Group C along with Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia. For the United States, the appearance will mark their third entrance into CONMEBOL’s signature event.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Canada
Date: June 21, 2007
Competition: 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Venue: Soldier Field – Chicago, Ill.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Weather: 72 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
Canada 0 1 1
USA – Frankie Hejduk (Landon Donovan) 39th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (pen) 45.
CAN – Iain Hume (Atiba Hutchinson) 76.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 2- Frankie Hejduk, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra, 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 6-Michael Bradley, 4-Pablo Mastroeni (19-Ricardo Clark, 89), 10-Landon Donovan, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 9-Eddie Johnson (5-Benny Feilhaber, 80), 8-Clint Dempsey (20-Taylor Twellman, 88)
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 12-Jay DeMerit, 15-Frankie Simek, 21-Justin Mapp
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
CAN: 22-Pat Onstad, 3-Ante Jazic, 5-Andrew Hainault, 6-Julian DeGuzman, 7-Paul Stalteri (capt), 10- Ali Gerba (18-Issey Nakajima-Farran, 81), 11-Richard Hatsings, 13 -Atiba Hitchinson, 14- Dwayne De Rosario, 15 -Patrick Bernier, 16-Martin Nash (17-Iain Hume, 64)
Subs not used: 2-Adam Braz, 8-Kevin Harmse, 19-Antonio Ribeiro, 20-Chris Pozniak, 23- Robert Giacomi
Head Coach: Stephen Hart
Stats Summary: USA CAN
Shots 13 11
Saves 3 4
Corner Kicks 3 4
Fouls 16 13
Offside 3 10
USA – Jonathan Bornstein (caution) 20th minute
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 28.
USA – Landon Donovan (caution) 41.
CAN – Pat Onstad (caution) 44.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution) 68.
CAN – Dwayne De Rosario (caution) 68.
USA – Michael Bradley (sent off) 86.
Referee: Benito Archundia (MEX)
1st Asst.: Luis Camargo (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Ricardo Louisville (SUR)
Fourth Official: Walter Quesada (CRC)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Landon Donovan