Soccer

Dempsey, Zardes lead US over Ecuador 2-1, into Copa semis

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USA TODAY Sports

Dempsey, Zardes lead US over Ecuador 2-1, into Copa semis

SEATTLE (AP) -- Clint Dempsey scored for the third straight game and set up Gyasi Zardes for a tap-in goal, boosting the United States into the Copa America semifinals with a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday night.

Playing before a boisterous and almost completely partisan home crowd in the soccer-mad Pacific Northwest, the U.S. won a knockout game against a nation outside its region for only the second time and will play Argentina or Venezuela on Tuesday in Houston.

Dempsey's 52nd international goal, five behind Landon Donovan's American record, put the U.S. ahead in the 22nd minute. Zardes guided Dempsey's cross into the net in the 65th for his sixth goal and a 2-0 lead.

Michael Arroyo scored for Ecuador in the 74th minute, making for a tense ending, and Enner Valencia missed a pair of great chances moment later on a pair of headers.

A chippy game was costly for the U.S. American midfielder Jermaine Jones was shown a red card during a 52nd-minute confrontation that also saw Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia sent off after a second yellow card for a harsh tackle on Alejando Bedoya along the sideline .

U.S. players immediately rushed in to the scrum after Valencia's tackle, and Jones raised an arm at Arroyo. Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan immediately showed a red card to Jones.

Jones will be suspended for the semifinal along with U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood, who both got their second yellow cards of the tournament.

Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros also appeared to be sent off late in the match.

The only previous knockout win for the U.S. over a non-CONCACAF team was against Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinal. The only other U.S. appearance in the Copa semifinals was in 1995, when it advanced to the final four by beating Mexico, then was eliminated by Brazil.

Dempsey appeared energized playing in the home stadium of his Seattle Sounders, and his header provided the U.S. a chance to relax after a tense opening. Wood was tremendous all night getting behind the defense and holding the ball up to provide chances on the attack and did so for both American goals.

On the first goal, Dempsey played the ball ahead to Wood, who dribbled and then passed to Jones. He crossed into the penalty area, where Dempsey had completed his run from midfield and beat Juan Paredes to the ball, directing it to the corner of the net past goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez from 8 yards.

The second goal was also a result of Wood playing the ball back. Brooks played a long ball to Wood, and his pass to Matt Besler was crossed to Gyasi Zardes in the area. His headed pass found Dempsey, who was able to slide a pass across the mouth of the goal for Zardes to poke in.

After that, the Americans tired and Ecuador turned up the pressure. Arroyo's goal came off Walter Ayovi's free kick from a flank. Enner Valencia had two great chances in the 76th and 77th minutes, and Brooks nearly had an own goal in the first minute of stoppage time, only to see the ball deflected wide by goalkeeper Guzan.

The U.S. made two changes to the lineup it used for the first three games of the tournament due to the red card picked up by right back DeAndre Yedlin in the final group game against Paraguay that caused the speedy youngster to miss a chance to play back in his hometown. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann inserted Besler into the lineup at left back and flopped Fabian Johnson to fill Yedlin's spot on the right side.

U.S. captain Michael Bradley wore a rainbow armband in honor of those killed in the Orlando, Florida, nighclub shooting last weekend.

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

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Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS:

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Washington Dulles International Airport was flooded by soccer fans alike Thursday afternoon awaiting the arrival of one specific person inside the international arrivals terminal: England's all-time goalscorer Wayne Rooney. 

Over 100 fans packed the halls as the 32-year-old made his way out of the airport while posing for pictures and signing autographs. 

Rooney penned a two-and-a-half year guaranteed contract worth about $13 million, which makes him the highest-paid player in D.C. United history. 

He officially becomes available to play for the club beginning July 10, after the transfer window opens. This means his first game could potentially be against Vancouver inside the brand new Audi Field July 10. 

After greeting fans at the airport, Rooney and his camp piled into two blacks SUVs en route to Northeast D.C. 

Little did World Cup fans taking in the England-Belgium match at Wunder Garten know that they were about to be surprised by Wayne Rooney himself. 

In an appearance that lasted just over seven minutes and included a slew of selfies, short conversations and one television interview, Rooney's presence dazzled fans and left others stunned. 

One England native who is now a D.C. resident told me: "We grew up watching him (Rooney) score in the World Cup and that was really important to us. It's hard to believe he just walked through here."

As you would imagine, management at Wunder Garten was thrilled, too.  

"It was great for us because it put us on the map. For someone as famous as Wayne Rooney to come through our establishment, shake hands and hang out, that means a lot. We loved having him here and would love to have him back," said Michael Keller, a member of the bar's management staff. 

 The Englishman will have his hands full as he attempts to put D.C. United back on the map this season. 

Follow Rooney on Twitter and Instagram @WayneRooney.