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USA advance to Copa America Centenario knockouts with win over Paraguay

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The USA advanced to the Copa America Centenario knockout rounds as a 10 man U.S. National Team held on to defeat Paraguay 1-0 Saturday night in downtown Philadelphia.

Needing a win to advance, Paraguay came out strong. Early on after Fabian Johnson missed a challenge, Paraguay raced towards the goal with three attackers taking on John Brooks, but somehow Brooks managed to make up a ton of ground and prevent a deadly cross with an inch-perfect tackle.

A few minutes later, goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to be active at the near post to block a close-range header as the U.S. were on the ropes.

Then, the U.S. got the vital goal they needed. After Zardes collected the ball on the left side of the midfield, the Galaxy attacker took off towards the touchline, probing before eventually squaring a low cross that Dempsey latched onto, placing a finish under Justo Villar to give the Americans the lead.

The game was a physical affair, with plenty of fouls from both sides as neither side refused to give an inch. Minutes before the half, Guzan stonewalled Dario Lezcano on a breakaway as the U.S. stayed ahead into the break.

What looked like a promising second half for the Yanks quickly turned into a nightmare as DeAndre Yedlin picked up two yellow cards in quick succession and the U.S. were shockingly down to ten men.

However, the Americans put on a gritty defensive display, shutting down the Paraguay attack time and time again. Not that the second half was without its chances. Gyasi Zardes should have done better when released on a one on one vs. Villar but hesitated to shoot and the defense closed the play down. 

Brad Guzan had an excellent night in goal, punctuated by a late flurry in the 82nd minute when he executed a double save from point-blank strikes to keep the shutout for the U.S.

The Americans will face the winners of group B, likely to be Brazil.