Jozy Altidore scored the game's only goal early on and the United States held on for a much-needed win that helped it advance to the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup.
KANSAS CITY - Bob Bradley changed his lineup, Jozy Altidore made the cut and all was good for the United States men's national team following one of the worst losses in its history.
In a game they either needed to win or draw, the Americans struck first - which has become a rarity over the years - and held on for a 1-0 victory over Guadeloupe at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinals.
"When the games are on the line, when they're bigger games I think we play well," said Jozy Altidore, who scored the game's only goal. "Hopefully now in the next game we can play better soccer."
The U.S. will face the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica Sunday in Washington, D.C.
"We still think we're the strongest team in CONCACAF so we have to go out there and play hard and better than we have in the first three games," U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan said.
Altidore scored just nine minutes after kickoff on a strike from about 25 yards out. After impressive ball movement in the midfield, Michael Bradley set the striker up for a shot that flew into the upper 90, stunning the crowd of 20,109.
"I took a touch, saw I had a little space and said, 'Why not?'" Altidore said.
The Stars and Stripes would dominate possession but couldn't get another goal despite some golden opportunities to close out the game in style.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey hit the bar in the 60th minute and nearly walked the ball past the Guadeloupe goal line in the 68th before a great recovery play by a defender kept him out. In injury time, Dempsey once again missed from point-blank range.
"I should have done better with my chances, so I'm upset with myself," Dempsey said. "But all I can do is keep clicking and making sure I do better next time."
But it didn't matter.
The Americans were victorious and Bradley holds onto his job for at least one more game after making the necessary changes to his starting XI following his team's 2-1 loss to Panama just four days earlier.
"It was certainly a game where at the end we still feel we should have finished the game earlier," Bradley said. "We had good chances to get the second goal and see what would happen after that. Still, there were many positives and we get ready to move forward."
Eric Lichaj and Chris Wondolowski were named starters prior to the game, replacing youngsters Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream, who looked lost in Tampa.
Ream didn't even make it on the bench with Jonathan Bornstein taking his place. The young defender had an illegal take-down in the box against Panama, leading to a Panama goal on a penalty kick in the first half. Agudelo hadn't played well alongside Altidore through two games.
Altidore, who was all but written off by American supporters after going scoreless in last year's World Cup, has two goals so far in the CONCACAF tournament. The first came in the United States' win over Canada in its opener in Detroit.
Altidore believes he has turned the corner.
"To be honest, I think it's happened already," he said. "We all guide each other a little bit and recognize what we're doing wrong."
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