Dempsey one goal away from record as US in Gold Cup semi

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

AR­LING­TON: Clint Dempsey is back in his home state of Texas, one goal away from a na­tional scor­ing record for the United States team that is one win from play­ing in an­other CONCACAF Gold Cup fi­nal. The Amer­i­cans played a semi­fi­nal game yes­ter­dsy night against Costa Rica in a sta­dium syn­ony­mous with Amer­i­can foot­ball - the home of the NFL’s Dal­las Cow­boys, the Cot­ton Bowl and where the first Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off cham­pi­onship game was played three sea­sons ago.

That is only about 180 miles from Dempsey’s home­town of Nacog­doches. “It’s al­ways great to be home and play in front of fam­ily and friends, es­pe­cially for a big game,” Dempsey said Fri­day. “I have a lot of great mem­o­ries of play­ing in Dal­las as a kid, and I’m proud to rep­re­sent Nacog­doches. Be­ing from there made me who I am to­day.”

Dempsey, one goal from match­ing Lan­don Dono­van’s Amer­i­can record of 57 na­tional team goals, wasn’t part of soc­cer’s only Gold Cup games at the $1.2 bil­lion AT&T Sta­dium. In a 2013 semi­fi­nal game there when the Amer­i­cans were on the way to their fifth Gold Cup cham­pi­onship, they beat Hon­duras 3-1. Dono­van scored twice in that game - his 55th and 56th goals for the na­tional team - and as­sisted on the other goal. About two months later, Dono­van scored his fi­nal goal in a World Cup qual­i­fier win over Mex­ico.

Within a week af­ter Costa Rica beat the US team 4-0 in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing last Novem­ber, Jur­gen Klins­mann was out as the US coach and Bruce Arena was re­hired to the po­si­tion he had been fired from a decade ear­lier. Costa Rica coach Os­car Ramirez said Fri­day that Arena has seem­ingly had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the US team. “They look more re­laxed in terms of what they’re do­ing on the field,” Ramirez said through an in­ter­preter.

AN­OTHER OP­POR­TU­NITY

This US ros­ter for the Gold Cup knock­out rounds also is much dif­fer­ent than the one that played in Costa Rica eight months ago - not just the change at coach. Only five play­ers from that game that are set for this semi­fi­nal game - Michael Bradley, Jozy Alti­dore, Matt Besler, Omar Gon­za­lez and Gra­ham Zusi.

“That’s in the past,” Gon­za­lez said. “I don’t think about that game . ... This is just an­other game. It’s an­other op­por­tu­nity for us to see what we’re made out of.” Alti­dore, Dempsey, Bradley, Dar­ling­ton Nagbe, and goal­keeper Tim Howard were all added to the lineup be­fore a 2-0 win over El Sal­vador in the quar­ter­fi­nal on Wed­nes­day night in Philadel­phia.

Dempsey set up Eric Lichaj’s goal in ex­tra time be­fore half­time to make it 20 against El Sal­vador. Dempsey also fed Gyasi Zardes for a break­away, though that ap­par­ent goal didn’t count af­ter he was ruled off­side. —AP

—AP

BEI­JING: Arse­nal’s Per Merte­sacker, cen­ter, tack­les the ball away from Chelsea’s Michy Bat­shuayi, right, dur­ing the first half of their friendly soc­cer match in Bei­jing, yes­ter­day. Chelsea beat Arse­nal 3-0.

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