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