The quarterfinal match between the USA and Canada on Tuesday not only decided which side advanced to the semifinal, but which team will travel to Turkey later this year to compete in the World Cup.
Initially, Canada took the lead. Content to keep shape, the Canucks hit out strongly. Dylan Carreiro wasn't closed down in midfield and he hit a low skidding ball that caught U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper out of position to open the scoring.
The United States equalized within a handful of minutes. Daniel Cuevas zipped to the byline past the rickety Jon Dollery and pulled the ball back. Luis Gil's composed first touch freed up the space to prod home.
Five minutes before the half, the Yanks went ahead. Mario Rodriguez again exploited the space behind Dollery, this time finding Jose Villarreal through a maze of defenders. The LA Galaxy forward calmly finished.
Then, with halftime approaching, the U.S. scored a third. After some tidy work by Cuevas to win a corner, Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau tamely punched the ball away. Will Trapp blasted the ball straight back from the top of the box, and a slight deflection helped the ball into the back of the net.
At halftime the Canucks inserted Keven Aleman and applied greater pressure. However, another goal from Villarreal all but killed the match off fewer than 10 minutes after the half. Villarreal played in Benji Joya, who passed the ball straight back. A quick shuffle lost his marker, and Villarreal tucked home.
Samuel Piette pulled one back after the hour mark -- punishing a poor clearance from a corner -- but the United States held on to close out the match.
In stoppage time, Manjrekar James, who had replaced injured captain Doneil Henry, earned a red card for headbutting Joya.
Tab Ramos' side advances to the semifinals, but will be without Villarreal or Gil, who will join up with their respective MLS sides ahead of the 2013 season, which begins Saturday.
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