ARLINGTON — It’s the hope that kills you.
Or in Jamaica’s case, the Hoppe.
Battling the United States down to the wire in the 2021 Gold Cup Quarterfinals at AT&T Stadium in Texas, the US Men’s National Team found a late winner off the head of forward Matthew Hoppe.
“The way he was able to get chances… he was grinding,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said of Hoppe after the game. “It was great to see him score.”
Despite dominating possession for most of the contest, it was actually the Jamaicans who saw the better end of the chances through the first 75 minutes of the contest.
Gregg Berhalter’s squad appeared as if they were going to succumb to their typical shortcomings.
Unable to create clear cut chances on one end of the pitch, the Jamaicans found success pressing the American back line, which continued to force the issue and try to build from the rear.
“I thought our guys competed unbelievably,” Berhalter said. “Eight guys (were) playing in a knockout round or the first time. Second youngest team ever in the knockout round.
“The guys were resilient.”
A pair of substitutions would prove to be the difference, however.
Christian Roldon was brought on for Paul Arriola, and in the 83rd minute, Roldon found some space down the right flank.
Picking his head up, Roldon lofted a winding cross toward the back post, and Hoppe outdueled teammate Gyasi Zardes to head the ball home and advance the Americans to the semifinals.
“After the goal I just started screaming,” Hoppe said during his post-match press conference on FOX Sports. “I don’t know. I was going crazy.”
Not only was the goal the match winner, but it was the FC Schalke forward’s first international goal donning the Stars and Stripes.
Still, the Americans must improve.
In their final group stage game of the Gold Cup, Berhalter’s side put in an uninspiring performance, albeit in a 1-0 victory.
Now for the second straight game, the United States was relatively quiet in front of goal, save for a few nice efforts from distance by Zardes and veteran Kellyn Acosta.
“Listen, Jamaica has a very robust defense,” Berhalter said. “Give them a ton of credit for the way they defend the penalty box. They’re a tough team.”
Oklahoma’s own Daryl Dike had a quiet night in 65 minutes of action, but he’s still played a major role for the US over the course of the Gold Cup.
His pair of goals is tied for the eighth best mark in the tournament as the former Oklahoma City Energy FC Academy player has helped lead the line for the Americans.
The victory now sets up a date with Qatar in the Semifinals on Thursday night in Austin. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m.