US reaches Copa America quarters with 1-0 win over Paraguay


US reaches Copa America quarters with 1-0 win over Paraguay

PHILADELPHIA -- Protecting a lead after Clint Dempsey's first-half goal, the United States' Copa America planning was suddenly upended.

DeAndre Yedlin got a pair of yellow cards 57 seconds apart just into the second half for two rash tackles, forcing the U.S. to play a man short against Paraguay for what turned out to be 49 fretful minutes.

Defenders held the back line, goalkeeper Brad Guzan made an outstanding double save in the 82nd minute and the U.S. held on for a 1-0 victory Saturday night to reach the Copa America quarterfinals.

"We stuck together," defender Geoff Cameron said. "Everybody sacrificed."

Hosting a special expanded 100th anniversary edition of South America's championship, the Americans (2-1) won Group A on goal difference over Colombia (2-1), which was upset 3-2 by already eliminated Costa Rica. By finishing first, the Americans may avoid a quarterfinal matchup with Brazil.

The U.S. plays Thursday night at Seattle, most likely against Ecuador or Peru, with the matchup to be determined by Sunday's Group B finals.

"I think that we could possibly do something special here," Dempsey said.

With the Americans playing for the third time in nine days, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann started the same lineup for the third straight game - something done only once before in U.S. national team history, in its three matches at the 1930 World Cup.

Dempsey scored for the second straight game, getting his 51st international goal in the 27th minute to move six behind Landon Donovan's American scoring record.

Gyasi Zardes received a pass from Michael Bradley, ran along the left flank and slowed. Marked by Paulo Da Silva, who made his record 137th appearance for Paraguay, and Victor Ayala, Zardes spurted to the endline and crossed. Dempsey sprinted into the penalty area as the trailing runner and from 8 yards one-timed a left-footed shot past the leg of sliding defender Fabian Balbuena and under the left arm of diving goalkeeper Justo Villar.

Yedlin got his first yellow in the 47th for a slide tackle from the side into Miguel Almiron near the center circle. When play resumed, he raised a foot and charged into Miguel Samudio near the sideline. Chilean referee Julio Bascunan immediately gave a second yellow, and the 22-year-old Yedlin lifted both arms wide as if to say, why me?

"He got caught emotionally," Klinsmann said. "He just lost his head for a second."

Yedlin, the first U.S. player to receive a red card in a competitive match since Michael Bradley at the 2009 Confederations Cup, walked by reporters without stopping to answer questions.

Because of goal difference, Paraguay needed to win in order to advance. Michael Orozco entered to replace Yedlin at right back in the 50th minute, and Dempsey came off as the U.S. prepared to survive an onslaught during the rest of the half, which included six minutes of stoppage time.

"It's huge discipline. It's huge work rate," Guzan said. "Everyone needs to be on the same page. And when you play a man down in the conditions like they were tonight, for so long, for 45 minutes, it's always going to be hard."

With Paraguay applying pressure, Klinsmann repeatedly turned to try to spur on the crowd of 51,041.

Brooks made a sliding tackle to knock the ball away from Almiron on a 3-on-1 break in the 11th minute, and Guzan parried Derlis Gonzalez's short-range, angled header in the 18th.

That was just a prelude.

Of Guzan's seven saves, the best were in the 82nd minute, a sliding body stop on Jorge Benitez's 4-yard shot followed by a kick save on Almiron's 6-yard attempt off the rebound.

"You sit there biting your nails," Dempsey said. "Certain plays, you're wanting the ball to go out of bounds. You want people to kind of take their time and be smart how they manage the game."

Klinsmann reveled in one of the team's bigger wins since he took over in 2011.

"This," he said, "is a huge statement to teams in South America or whoever watches it on TV."

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


NBCSB Breakfast pod: How Jayson Tatum compares to Paul Pierce

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NBCSB Breakfast pod: How Jayson Tatum compares to Paul Pierce

1:25 - With half of the Celtics roster on the shelf, we’ve been able to see just how great a scorer Jayson Tatum can be. A. Sherrod Blakely, Mike Girardi and Trenni Kusnierek discuss how Tatum compares to Celtics legend, Paul Pierce.

5:35 - The NFL Competition Committee is giving it their best shot at modifying the ‘catch rule’ and Tom Curran, Kyle Draper and Hardy try to wrap their heads around the proposed changes.

11:02 - The Bruins clinched a playoff berth despite losing to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Joe Haggerty joins Tom Giles to break down the game, which included another goal by Ryan Donato and a questionable call on a high hit on David Krejci.