FOOTBALL: Haiti surprises, but Mexico, Jamaica and U.S. into men’s Gold Cup semis

U.S. midfielder Wes McKennie

The U.S. men’s National Team played a surprisingly low-energy game against upstart Curacao in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but still managed to win by 1-0 thanks to a Wes McKennie header in the 25th minute.

That wrapped up the quarterfinals, which saw thrilling games in Houston on Saturday and two dull games on Sunday in Philadelphia.

The story of the tournament so far is Haiti, which was undefeated in group play (3-0; 6-2 goal differential) and managed a 3-2 win in its quarter vs. Canada. The Canadians went up 2-0 in the first half, then saw Haiti score in the 50th minute, then equalized on a penalty kick by Herve Basile in the 70th minute. The winner came from Wilde-Donald Guerrier in the 76th minute and Haiti moves on to Tuesday’s semis – for the first time in their Gold Cup history – in Glendale, Arizona.

It will face Mexico, which barely escaped against Costa Rica on penalty kicks. The game was 1-1 in regulation thanks to a questionable penalty handed to Costa Rica in the 52nd minute. Costa Rica led, 2-1, after two rounds of penalties, but the Mexicans converted four in a row to a 5-5 tie. In sudden-death, Carlos Salcedo made his penalty and Keysher Fuller’s try was stopped by Mexican keeper Memo Ochoa … and Mexico moved on, barely.

Both Haiti and Mexico are undefeated at 4-0 in the tournament.

The U.S. came out strongly vs. Curacao, which finished 1-1-1 in group play. Midfielder Christian Pulisic was everywhere and almost scored in the fourth minute, then made a brilliant cross from the left side right to the head of a streaking McKennie and he pushed it past Curacao keeper Eloy Room.

The U.S. had a 54-46% possession edge in the first half, but Curacao had a 7-4 edge in shots.

In the second half, the U.S. appeared to go to sleep, and Curacao had 60% of the possession and a 7-6 lead in shots. For the game, Curacao had 53% of the possession and led in shots, 13-11.

U.S. keeper Zack Steffen saved a dangerous shot from Leandro Bacuna in the 84th minute and held the defense together while the American attack imploded.

Jamaica’s game vs. Panama was mostly a snoozer, but when Darren Mattocks came in at the 73rd minute, things changed. He was elbowed in the back on a header try in the box and a penalty was called just a minute later and scored the game’s only goal on the penalty in the 85th minute.

In the semis, the U.S. will play Jamaica in Nashville on Wednesday. It’s worth noting that the Reggae Boyz have been to the last two Gold Cup finals (2015 and 2017, losing both times) and beating the U.S., 1-0, in a friendly on 5 June.

The full tournament scores and schedules are here.