KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The United States is marching on in the Gold Cup.
It sure wasn’t easy.
Jozy Altidore scored in the ninth minute off an assist from Michael Bradley, and the U.S. hung on to beat Guadeloupe 1-0 on Tuesday night and reach the tournament quarterfinals after a loss earlier in the group stage to Panama.
“With group play, you’ve got to deal with each game and find a way to advance,” coach Bob Bradley said. “We’re pretty hard on ourselves because we weren’t satisfied with our performance against Panama, but there are things that bring a team together.”
Panama won Group C with help from its 2-1 victory over the Americans, who pushed through as the second-place team. They’ll face Group B winner Jamaica on Sunday in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. finish broke a string of 10 straight first-place results in group play.
“This was a game where at the end, we certainly feel we should have finished the game earlier,” Bradley said. “We had good chances to get that second goal. Still, there were positives and now we get ready to move forward.”
The U.S. needed only a draw to advance after Panama and Canada drew 1-1 in Tuesday night’s early game. Altidore made that a moot point with his go-ahead drive from 25 yards, his second goal of the tournament.
“I was just able to get a little space,” Altidore said. “It was a good goal.”
Guadeloupe, a surprise semifinalist four years ago, went winless in three games, all by one-goal margins. The tiny island, a French possession in the Caribbean, is not a member of FIFA and cannot take part in World Cup qualifications.
“We cannot keep playing that way and not have something to look forward to,” said midfielder Stephane Auvray, who plays for Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. “It’s frustrating because now we have to go home and in two years start up with the same problems we have now.”
The U.S. pressed its attack throughout the match and had several chances to add an insurance goal but was unable to convert any of them.
Clint Dempsey had the best opportunity in the 76th minute, when he wound up alone with a loose ball in front of the goal. Julien Ictoi took advantage of Dempsey’s momentary hesitation and hooked the ball to goalkeeper Franck Grandel.
“I couldn’t buy a goal tonight,” Dempsey said.
The Americans, who started slowly and gave up an early goal in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Panama, nearly saw the same thing happen in the fourth minute Tuesday night.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard failed to control a ball on the goal line, and Landon Donovan’s attempt to clear hit Dempsey and fell straight to Guadeloupe’s Stephane Zubar. His shot from near the penalty spot hit the crossbar.
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