PHILADELPHIA — The United States survived to play another day in Copa America Centenario, recording a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Paraguay to reach the quarterfinals Saturday night.
Clint Dempsey supplied the offense and stellar play by goalkeeper Brad Guzan and center back John Brooks kept the Paraguayans off the scoreboard in the Group A finale for both teams before 51,041 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Americans (2-1-0, six points) played virtually the entire second half a man down after right back DeAndre Yedlin was expelled for being assessed his second yellow card within a minute for a hard tackle on Miguel Samudio in the 48th minute.
Paraguay (0-2-1, 1), which needed a win to advance, was eliminated.
“The way they grinded out it, the way they kept their shape and discipline, the way they worked for each other, it’s an outstanding performance,” United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.
Dempsey, who scored his 51st international goal and second of the competition, agreed.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “The boys showed a lot of heart, especially after that red card.”
Yedlin will miss the quarterfinals, whether the United States winds up playing as group champions in Seattle Thursday or as runners-up at MetLife Stadium Friday. Colombia (2-0-0, 6) needed a draw with Costa Rica (0-1-1, 1) in the late match Saturday night to clinch the group. A loss would give the Americans the title.
As the match wore on, play got more contentious as referee Julio Bascunan awarded all but one of his nine yellow cards in the second half, six on the Americans.
For only the second time and the first time since the 1930 World Cup, the United States deployed the same lineup for three consecutive games. What made Klinsmann’s historic move even more audacious was that it he did it in a high-profile competition.
It paid off royally.
Dempsey played his part in the 27th minute. Gyasi Zardes raced down the left flank, beat Paulo da Silva and crossed the ball to Dempsey, who one-timed a shot past diving goalkeeper Justo Villar.
“You’ve got to give it to Clint finishing it off, being clinical, being Clint,” Klinsmann said.
Brooks, the cornerstone of the back line, had his signature moment in the 11th minute when he tackled the ball away from Miguel Almiron, who was trying to convert a 3-on-1 break.
“That performance by John was definitely something special,” Klinsmann said.
Dario Lezcano will have nightmares of Guzan, who denied his close-range left-post header in the 19th minute and an onrushing shot with a kick save at the opposite post in the 45th minute. Guzan put his stamp on the match, producing back-to-back saves on point-blank attempts by Jorge Benitez and Almiron in the 82nd minute.
“A couple of wonderful saves,” Klinsmann said.