The U.S. Men's National Team rode Clint Dempsey's third goal of the tournament to earn a tough 1-0 victory over Haiti and advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinals before a loud and boisterous crowd of 46,720 at Gilette Stadium Friday night.
Haiti had the first major chance in the 10th minute when former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Mechack Jerome placed a precise free kick clean off the top left corner of Brad Guzan's crossbar. Later on, a U.S. giveaway in midfield led to Haitian forward Donald Guerrier unleashing a rocket from inside the box that just curved left of Guzan's goal.
Haiti lined up with five defenders in the back with the intent of frustrating the Yanks, and frustrate they did, using the counter-attack to good effect and outshooting the Americans 9-4 in the first half. Much like the Americans' first Gold Cup match, the U.S. looked slow in the buildup and struggled to create any offense.
The Americans thought they had gone ahead when Aron Johannson finished off a blazing USA counter-attack by sliding the ball into the net, but despite replays appearing to show Johannson onside, the referee ruled he was off when Altidore played him the ball.
The attempt looked to breathe some life into the US attack as passes began to connect and Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley found space inside the Haitian half of the field. First Bradley scuffed a shot to the right from the top of the box, then minutes later a wild sequence concluded with Altidore curving a long distance blast high and wide.
LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes replaced Jozy Altidore at halftime and made an immediate impact in the 47th minute, chesting down a Greg Garza chip inside the box and pulling back for Clint Dempsey to calmly pass into the net for the only goal of the match.
The match intensified as the US looked to finish off the match while Haiti fought to find a equalizer. They had their chances too: In the 57th minute, Brad Guzan was huge to deny Duckens Nazon one on one, then in the 63rd, Guerrier headed a dangerous Kim Jaggy cross wide.
The US were unlucky not to score a spectacular goal in the 73rd when Dempsey neatly rounded a Haitian defender deep inside the box and chipped for Aron Johannson, but his ambiguous bicycle attempt just missed Dempsey's service.
Despite a late flurry of chances from both sides, the US held on for the victory.