John Dorton/USSF/Getty Images for USSF
What a rollercoaster of emotions.
The United States National Team kept its hopes alive of defending its Gold Cup title Sunday night with a win over Canada at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, advancing to the semifinals of the competition.
And on a night where they had to win the game multiple times, the Americans needed a hero before the end of the night.
Enter Matt Turner.
The United States’ No. 1 stepped up in the biggest moments, saving two huge penalties to start the shootout and giving his squad just enough breathing room to squeeze by, winning 3-2 on pens.
But it was a long and harrowing journey before getting to that point.
A long, scoreless night seemed to end in the 88th minute when Brandon Vázquez—the FC Cincinnati striker—gave the US the lead on a sensational header. But a handball in the box just a few minutes later led to a stoppage-time penalty from Canada’s Steven Vitória.
The neighbors to the north struck first in extra time as an incredible run by Jacob Shaffelburg resulted in an even better finish under the arms of Turner to make it 2-1 with just over 10 minutes remaining, seemingly sealing the reigning champs’ fate.
However, an own-goal from Scott Kennedy leveled it back up for the US in the 114th minute and eventually set up Turner’s dominant performance in the shootout.
Going up against Vitória for a second time from the spot, Turner remembered the down the middle shot that the veteran striker put past him earlier, standing his grown and saving it this time around. He’d save the following penalty as well, setting the tone for the victory.
Twitter was worshipping Turner for his heroics.
But none of Turner’s work would have been possible without the work of Gianluca Busio, the United States’ best player on the pitch for long stretches of the night.
He was active in all phases of the game, breaking up Canada’s play as well as pushing the ball forward on counter attacks.
It was Busio’s shot that Kennedy turned in to give the Americans a late equalizer in front of a raucous home crowd.
With hopes of a repeat still alive, the national team will now advance to play an impressive Panama squad Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET
A date with rivals Mexico in the final is still a possibility as El Tri is set for a semifinal matchup against Jamaica.