AUSTIN, Texas — Gyasi Zardes scored in the 86th minute and the United States beat Qatar, 1-0, on Thursday night to reach the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Zardes, one of the few first-line U.S. players on a mostly junior varsity roster for this tournament, replaced Daryl Dike in the 63rd minute and combined with two other second-half subs, Nicholas Gioacchini and Eryk Williamson.
Gioacchini picked up a Qatari clearance attempt and fed Williamson, who returned the ball. Gioacchini passed to Zardes, and he scored with a right-footed shot from 7 yards, his 14th international goal and second of the tournament.
The 20th-ranked U.S. matched its record with 13 consecutive home wins and advanced to Sunday night’s final in Las Vegas against defending champion Mexico, which beat Canada, 2-1, in Houston.
CONCACAF filled out the field for the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, with 2022 World Cup host Qatar as an invited guest.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner made three big first-half saves for the U.S.
Qatar had a chance to go ahead in the 61st minute but Hassan Al-Haydos sent a penalty kick over the crossbar following a foul by James Sands. Al-Haydos took a stutter step and tried to fool goalkeeper Matt Turner with a panenka, a soft shot down the middle.
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Zack Steffem, Josh Sargent and other U.S. regulars missed the Gold Cup for vacation followed by preseasons with their European clubs.
U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter started the same lineup in consecutive games for the first time since the 2019 Gold Cup semfinal and final.
The match was played at Q2 Stadium, which opened last month and will host the Americans’ World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on Oct. 7.
The U.S. beat Mexico in their last meeting in a dramatic finish to win the CONCACAF Nations League.
In the other semifinal …
Mexico 2, Canada 1: Orbelin Pineda scored on a penalty shot in first-half stoppage time, his fifth international goal and third of the tournament, and Tajon Buchanan tied the score in the 57th with his first goal. Héctor Herrera scored in the 10th minute of second-half stoppage time, his ninth international goal, for 10th-ranked Mexico.
VAR intervened to hand Mexico a chance from the penalty spot after a review confirmed a foul on Canada’s Donell Henry in the area and Pineda converted to put El Tri in front at the break.
Buchanan drew Canada level early in the second half with an excellent individual effort, picking up a long ball on the left edge of the area, beating his defender and firing past Mexico keeper Alfredo Talavera at the far post.
Mexico again benefitted from a video review, with Canada’s Mark-Anthony Kaye whistled for a foul on the edge of the box after a VAR check, but Maxime Crepeau saved Carlos Salcedo’s penalty shot to preserve the draw.
The match was stopped as the second half progressed because of an anti-gay chant from the Mexico fans, but play resumed shortly after.
Herrera pounced on a ball at the top of the area and fired home in stoppage time to hand Tata Martino’s team a berth in the title game after nearly 13 extra minutes that were at times very tense.
The Canadians were without striker Lucas Cavallini and defender Steven Vitoria due to yellow-card accumulation. They were also without forwards Cyle Larin and Ayo Akinola because of injuries.
Canada was in its first semifinal since 2007 and was seeking its first championship since 2000. The Canadians are the only country other than the U.S. and Mexico to win the tournament.
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