SEATTLE: Clint Dempsey struck again as the United States powered through to the semi-finals of the Copa America Centenario on Thursday in a stormy 2-0 win over Ecuador that saw both sides finish with 10 men.
Dempsey scored his third goal in as many games for Jurgen Klinsmann´s side at CenturyLink Field, pouncing on 22 minutes before setting up a second for Los Angeles Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes in the 65th minute.
Michael Arroyo pulled a goal back for Ecuador in the 74th minute to set up a frantic finale, but the US held on and will now face either Argentina or Venezuela in the semi-finals in Houston next week.
But the victory came at a cost for Klinsmann´s side, as key midfielder Jermaine Jones was sent off early in the second half to earn a suspension which will see him miss the semi-final.
France-based midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and Hamburg striker Bobby Wood also earned yellow cards that will see them suspended for the last four.
For Ecuador, Manchester United´s Antonio Valencia was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards before triggering the melee which led to Jones´ dismissal.
Earlier, a cagey start had seen both sides begin tentatively before Jones and Michael Bradley steadily imposed themselves in midfield as the US started to gain the upper hand.
Wood´s speed troubled the Ecuador defense on 17 minutes, when he darted onto a low pass only to prod his finish well wide of the advancing Alexander Dominguez.
Yet five minutes later the US took the lead with a beautifully worked goal that began when Dempsey gathered in midfield and released Wood, who fed Jones near the edge of the area.
The midfielder picked out Dempsey with a superb cross and the former Tottenham and Fulham stalwart duly headed home.
Five minutes later Dempsey was threatening again, this time his shot well-saved by Dominguez.