Gyasi Zardes scored in the 86th minute and the United States beat Qatar, 1-0, Thursday night to reach the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Zardes, one of the few first-line US players on a mostly junior varsity roster at the tournament, replaced Daryl Dike in the 63rd minute and combined with two other second-half subs, Nicholas Gioacchini and Eryk Williamson in Austin, Texas. Gioacchini picked up a Qatari clearance attempt and fed Williamson, who returned the ball. Gioacchini passed to Zardes, and he scored his 14th goal and second of the tournament. The 20th-ranked Americans matched their record with 13 consecutive home wins and advanced to Sunday night’s final in Las Vegas, where they will face defending champion Mexico or Canada, who played later Thursday night. CONCACAF filled out the field for the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, with 2022 World Cup host Qatar as an invited guest. Matt Turner made three big first-half saves for the US. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Zack Steffem, Josh Sargent, and other US regulars missed the Gold Cup for vacation followed by preseason with their European clubs.
MLS teams cleared to return to Canada
The three Canadian teams in Major League Soccer are back in Canada for good, the league announced. The Public Health Agency of Canada and Minister of Immigration have approved a National Interest Exemption that allows all MLS players to participate in cross-border matches subject to stringent health and safety protocols. Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver had played all their home matches in the United States until recently because of pandemic-related border restrictions. Montreal and Toronto returned to their home venues earlier this month. Vancouver is scheduled to have its first home match on Aug. 21 against LAFC. Under the exemption, all players and staff are required to undergo COVID-19 testing before they enter Canada, regardless of vaccination status. Those who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated will be required to observe a modified quarantine. The league said 96% of its players, coaches and support staff are fully vaccinated … Liverpool players and staff observed 97 seconds of silence at the team’s preseason camp in Austria in honor of Andrew Devine, who died this week from long-term injuries sustained in the Hillsborough disaster. The lifelong Liverpool fan died Tuesday at the age of 55 and the Liverpool coroner’s court concluded he was “unlawfully killed,” making him the 97th fatality of Britain’s worst sports disaster. Before the 1989 FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham at Hillsborough Stadium, overcrowding led to a crush which killed 94 fans. Another fan died in hospital days later, and another victim died in 1993.
Sorenstam shares US Senior Women’s Open lead
Annika Sorenstam shot a 5-under-par 67 in her US Senior Women’s Open debut for a share of the lead in the rain-suspended first round at Fairfield, Conn. The 50-year-old Sorenstam, a three-time US Women’s Open champion in her Hall of Fame career, had six birdies and a bogey at Brooklawn Country Club. Dana Ebster offset a double bogey on the par-5 seventh with an eagle on the par-5 11th — holing a 115-yard shot with a 9-iron — to join Sorenstam atop the leaderboard. All of the afternoon starters in the 120-player field were unable to finish. Kris Tschetter was third at 69, and Liselotte Neumann shot 70. JoAnne Carner, 82, shot her age for the second time in the event, becoming the oldest player in USGA history to accomplish the feat. She also became the oldest player to compete in a USGA championship, topping Harold “Jug” McSpaden, who was 81 when he played in the 1990 US Senior Open … England’s Jordan Smith made seven birdies on his back nine to shoot an 8-under 62 and take a two-shot lead after the first round of the World Invitational at Galgorm, Northern Ireland. Smith birdied his opening hole and followed it with eight pars before his run of birdies. Germany’s Matthias Schmid and Scotland’s David Drysdale were tied for second. The World Invitational, which is sanctioned by the European Tour, LPGA Tour, and Ladies European Tour, sees men’s and women’s tournaments taking place simultaneously. In the women’s event, Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh carded a 7-under 66 to share the lead with American Jennifer Kupcho and South Korea’s Chella Choi. England’s Charley Hull and Georgia Hall were two shots off the pace.
Bout off after Benn tests positive
Conor Benn’s WBA continental welterweight title defense against Adrian Granados was called off after the British boxer tested positive for COVID-19. Benn’s bout against the 31-year-old Chicago native was set to headline the card on Saturday night in Essex, England. The 24-year-old Benn (18-0) said it “breaks my heart” to tell fans he tested positive and can’t fight. Promoter Eddie Hearn said Benn “feels well” and that the fight will be rescheduled. Benn last fought on April 10 when he knocked out Samuel Vargas in 80 seconds in London. Granados (21-8-3) last fought on May 1 when he drew with Jose Luis Sanchez … The Basketball Hall of Fame announced the field of teams for the first-ever Basketball Hall of Fame Classic to be held at Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 11. The tripleheader will feature UMass vs. North Texas, Mississippi State vs. Colorado State, and Stephen F. Austin vs. Liberty.