Matt Turner told his American teammates not to worry when their match against Canada went to penalty kicks.
“He had the last word before we went out to the field,” U.S. interim coach B.J. Callaghan said. “It’s just encouraging the guys to stay calm, stay committed to what they’ve practised.”
Turner stopped two penalty kicks, and the Americans beat Canada 3-2 in the shootout after a 2-2 draw Sunday night for a berth in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal against Panama. The U.S. had not won a shootout since 2005.
“A lot of the penalties that I had seen on my sheets or in my preparation, most of those guys were off the pitch by the time the pens were there,” Turner said. “I just trusted my instincts, really, and typically when I do that, I find myself having a lot more success.”
Brandon Vázquez gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 88th minute, but Steven Vitória tied the score in the third minute of stoppage time with a penalty kick after a hand ball on Miles Robinson. Jacob Shaffelburg put Canada ahead in the 109th but an own goal by Canada’s Scott Kennedy made it 2-2 in the 115th.
Turner stopped Vitória’s opening penalty kick with his right hand when Vitória shot down the middle, as he did in regulation. Vázquez skied his attempt over the crossbar and Turner dived left to bat away Liam Fraser’s attempt.
“He’s a really settling force at the back for the U.S.,” Canada coach John Herdman said. “He’s got wonderful feet. His game management is very good, and he can save penalties.”
Herdman also had high praise for his team.
“There were bright spots from this Gold Cup and we were able to test our 2026 talent pool. There were some big performances from new players combined with the veterans who helped carry and develop a team through the last couple of weeks. I’m proud of the guys tonight.”
Cade Cowell, Gianluca Busio and Jesús Ferreira all converted for the U.S. while Kamal Miller and Jacen Russell-Rowe made shots for Canada. Charles-Andreas Brym put Canada’s final attempt off the crossbar.
The U.S.-Panama winner on Wednesday at San Diego advances to the championship match on July 16 against Mexico or Jamaica at Inglewood, Calif.
Vitoria said the Canadian side was “gutted” with the loss, knowing it was about six minutes away from pulling off the upset before surrendering an own goal.
“The change room is gutted, but a lot more stuff to be proud of than disappointed about. We faced, once again, a great country. You know we were that close,” said Vitoria.
The team emphasized growth as a mission before the tournament, but Vitoria admitted it’s more fun to grow with wins.
“Once you go to penalties the ball can bounce any way, but everybody was convinced, everybody gave it our all. And when you give your all there’s not much more to take from it.
“We grew a lot, so close. It’s tough playing here, an away game, an away atmosphere. But we’re going to find a way. Now the next step is finding a way to win at this level against the big teams. I’m fully convinced we’re that much closer.”
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair said his Canadian teammates “wanted to bring the fight tonight” and felt they left everything they had on the field.
“It’s unlucky for us it didn’t fall our way,” said St. Clair, who felt his team improved as the tournament progressed despite the absence of several key stars.
The Americans have reached 12 straight Gold Cup semifinals. Going to a shootout for the first time since losing to Panama in the 2015 Gold Cup third-place game, the Americans improved to 5-4 in games decided by penalty kicks, including 5-2 in competitive matches. They had not won a shootout since beating Panama in the 2005 Gold Cup final.
Vázquez had put the U.S. ahead with a header from DeJuan Jones’ looping cross. In his home stadium where he plays for Cincinnati, Vázquez scored his fourth international goal and third goal of the tournament. He had entered in the 73rd minute.
Vitória tied the score with his fifth international goal. Robinson was called for the penalty by Mexican referee Marco Ortíz after a video review of a ball bouncing off the defender’s arm while Robinson was challenging Rowe. Ortíz declined to award a penalty after a video review of a ball off Robinson’s arm in first-half stoppage time,
Shaffelburg gave Canada the lead when he picked up a loose ball near midfield and dribbled past Ferreira. From just inside the penalty area, Shaffelburg sent a shot that deflected off a calf of defender Matt Miazga for his first international goal.
Turner lofted the ball from midfield into the penalty area. Miazga centred a header to Jordan Morris, who headed the ball in front. Dayne St. Clair made a leg save on Busio, but the shot deflected off defender Kennedy and in for an own goal.
In the opening game, Jamaica beat Guatemala 1-0 on a 51st-minute goal by Amari’i Bell. The defender scored from a Demarai Gray pass with a right-foot shot from 8 yards for his first international goal. Jamaica will play Mexico at Las Vegas on Wednesday.