Costa Rica into Gold Cup semis after beating Panama 1-0

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According to the novel rules of the 2017 Gold Cup, teams are permitted to make up to six roster changes within 24 hours of their final group stage match.

If the U.S. beats El Salvador, it will play the winner of of Costa Rica-Panama in the tournament semifinal Saturday in Dallas.

Even amid two missed penalties and a roster void of players like Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey, the U.S. got the job done, topping Nicaragua 3-0 in route to a quarterfinal date with El Salvador this Thursday. Eduardo Lara's top scorer and most dangerous man is Nelson Bonilla, who plays in Portugal and he will be El Salvador's main player to watch in this game. The Americans are hoping that trend of success continues at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

That came from San Jose Earthquakes center back Godoy, who rose to clear a Costa Rican free kick only to see his header slip back behind Calderon. Players like Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Omar Gonzalez knew enough to walk away from provocation and focus on the scoreboard. Two experienced players were let go as well, but those departures were prearranged: goalkeeper Brad Guzan, to join his new MLS team, Atlanta United; and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, to rejoin his pregnant wife.

This USMNT is now a favorite to advance past El Salvador in the Gold Cup with Dempsey, Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, and Darlington Nagbe (this is the only time you can root for the Portland Timbers star).

"We're driven, we're motivated", Howard said to philly.com on Monday. We did it before the tournament and we're going to move in this direction, and they've come in with a good attitude.

Tim Howard has been added to the U.S. Gold Cup roster.

While the U.S. went 2-1-0 in Group B to finish ahead of Panama on a tiebreaker, it will be a different squad that opposes El Salvador. While Altidore's partnership with Dempsey hasn't been the classic big guy-little guy combination that has characterized plenty of forward pairings over the years, they each fill a specific role. There's no reason why we shouldn't win the game.

30 minutes into the match, however, and the United States still found themselves drawn with the Nicaraguans 0-0.

In that regard, the experimentation of the group stage could give way to a squad that forecasts the opener in Russia.

The Rapids play their first game in 18 days Saturday at Toronto.

TV schedule: The matchup is set to air on FS1, Unimas and Univision Deportes at 9 p.m. ET. Just two more goals were needed to avoid the gauntlet.

With Pemberton and Calderon both having solid nights, it was going to take something unusual for a breakthrough. "It was terrible, so I always give him crap about that". There aren't any comparable players left on the roster.

Although El Salvador has played well in the tournament, the United States remains heavily favored to maintain an unbeaten streak that began against the Salvadorans in 1993.

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