U.S. battles into Gold Cup semis

July 20, 2017 GMT

Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj scored late in the first half and the United States beat El Salvador, 2-0, last night in Philadelphia in an ugly CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal in which defender Henry Romero appeared to bite Jozy Altidore on the back of a shoulder and pull the American forward’s nipple.

Canadian referee Drew Fischer, a Major League Soccer regular, did not penalize the incident, which occurred during a skirmish on the goal line in the 57th minute ahead of a U.S. corner kick. A furious Altidore fell to the ground but remained in the game.

The Americans, who started five veterans added for the tournament’s knockout phase, overcame shaky defensive play and poor passing, advancing to a semifinal against Costa Rica on Saturday at Arlington, Texas.

Bruce Arena changed all 11 starters for the second straight game and at 7-0-5 set a record for longest unbeaten streak at the start of a U.S. coaching tenure, topping Bob Bradley’s 10-0-1 in 2007.

In the first quarterfinal last night, Anibal Godoy headed David Guzman’s free kick into his own net in the 77th minute, giving Costa Rica a 1-0 victory over Panama for the berth in the semifinals.

Guzman took a free kick from about 35 yards out, and the ball swerved slightly and went off the side of Godoy’s head and past goalkeeper Jose Calderon for an own goal.

Kraft to chair World bid

The push is on to bring the World Cup back to the United States, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in the thick of it.

Kraft, who also owns the Revolution, was named Honorary Chairman of the board that will bid to bring the 2026 World Cup to the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The Board for the United Bid Committee kicked off its efforts last week to host the event, which will increase to 48 teams for the first time. The deadline to confirm an intention to host is Aug.?11 while March 16, 2018, is the date countries need to submit a formal bid.

The U.S. last hosted a World Cup in 1994, when six games were played at the old Foxboro Stadium. The tournament was a precursor for the formation of Major League Soccer. Mexico has hosted the tournament in 1986 and 1970 while Canada has never hosted.

“By 2026, more than 30 years will have passed since we hosted the FIFA World Cup and its return to North America is long overdue,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am honored to be serving in this role and eager to do everything in my power to bring the FIFA World Cup back to North America to share the competition with all the deserving fans in the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

Gillette Stadium has played host to the MLS Cup three times, including the 2002 final between the Revolution and LA Galaxy, played in front of the largest crowd in MLS postseason history (61,316).

Kraft’s experience in soccer is a vital part of his recognition, said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati.

“Robert Kraft has been one of the most influential figures in modern professional sports in the United States,” said Gulati in a statement. “He is a leader who saw the potential of soccer in America early on and has been heavily invested in the success and growth of the game over the last three decades.”

The World Cup, played every four years, will be in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.