The US men’s national team hung on through a difficult opening frame before conjuring another leave-it-late 1-0 winner to shove Qatar aside on their way to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Final.
The home side took some jabs along the way, but had more steel when crunch time arrived. In the end, a bit of Nicholas Gioacchini magic set up Gyasi Zardes to end Qatar's title hopes with an 86th-minute strike.
United States Men's National Team Player Ratings
The New England Revolution netminder very much kept the US in the game during the first half. Turner's first big reaction stop spared an own goal. His second was, let's be honest, a ridiculously good save. Then he factored into Hassan Al-Haydos missing his panenka-style penalty kick in the 61st minute.
The Colorado Rapids left back wasn't sharp in the early phase of the game, especially at the back. While he never offered much going forward, Vines smoothed out his efforts in defense over the final hour or so.
The Atlanta United defender led the way in largely keeping Almoez Ali from finding firing range. There's no real flair on show, just shrewd positioning and enough athleticism to play episodes out in Robinson's favor.
Right off the top, I'm hesitant to mark off too much for the penalty foul because it sure looked like Sands got a qualifying touch on the ball to enact immunity. Much more concerning were the early errors; a bad giveaway in the USMNT’s end caused stress and an ill-advised touch on a weak shot required Turner's dazzling second stop as a bail-out. The New York City FC youngster was sturdier after the halftime break.
It was a decent outing from the Tenerife right back, but there were bumps along the way. While Moore flubbed on a couple of close-down situations, a pair of timely area tackles go a long way toward lifting one's defensive mark. His impact moving forward was limited, but not without a couple of passing highlights.
It wasn’t a spotless performance from the Colorado Rapids midfielder, but he had some success halting rushes and then dribbling the team out of trouble. More than anything, Acosta's mind games jarred the visitors. His gamesmanship repeatedly captured Qatar's attention and had to have an effect on the penalty miss.
There were lanes left too open here and there, but Busio also picked up his defensive intensity in key moments. The real disappointment was a lingering inability to break down Qatar through the lines.
Unable to find much running room, the D.C. United winger was quiet in the first half. Arriola livened up when the first set of subs took the field, but was gone by the time the US found a winner.
I'll try to be as gentle as one should be to someone so clearly suffering from a bum shoulder. It's fair to say that Dike shouldn't have gotten the start, and I find it predictable that his touch and usual amount of battle was lacking. Still, he'll likely say he should have done better on the big chance arranged by the next guy on the list.
It’s become apparent that the young attacker definitely brings his spurs to the rodeo. Hoppe just wants to light a spark any way he can, and he'll invent ways to do it. Most of the threatening US rushes before his departure went through the Schalke talent, and his entry feed to Dike was sublime. Hoppe also isn’t shy about contributing on the backtrack, which came in handy early.
I think it was a mistake to go with a dinged-up Dike and the boss was again a little slow in trying to alter the game. Nevertheless, those changes worked a charm and the fight he’s instilled in this young squad in short order was again decisive.
The Seattle Sounders’ engine was also among the sub crew that ignited the team's rally torch. All in all, Roldan's audition to be a bench speak moving forward is going well.
The Columbus Crew striker was visibly on the hunt for a goal as soon as he came on. Zardes found what he was looking for, nudging the USMNT into the final.
The right back sub helped the team pick up the pace late, forcing Qatar's left side to run back toward their own goal.
The Caen attacker played hero by playing Qatar's backline like a fiddle to tee up Zardes. To boot, Gioacchini gummed up the works of any last-gasp rally attempt by earning a string of foul calls.
In addition to playing a supporting role in the build-up to the goal, Williamson pitched in with some dogged ball-hawking to help squash Qatar's comeback hopes.