CHICAGO – After Frankie Hejduk and Landon Donovan scored, the United States nearly frittered away its lead and a spot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

Hejduk, who missed last summer’s World Cup with a knee injury, scored his first goal in almost seven years and Donovan converted his third penalty kick of the tournament. Then the United States hung on for a 2-1 victory over Canada on Thursday night, getting help when an apparent tying goal in injury time was disallowed on a disputed offside call.

Hejduk will miss the final after picking up his second yellow card in as many games and Michael Bradley, the son of U.S. coach Bob Bradley, also will sit out the final after getting a red card in the 89th minute for a reckless tackle.

The defending champions, who are unbeaten in the tournament, play Mexico or Guadeloupe on Sunday.

With 33 goals, Donovan moved within one of Eric Wynalda’s U.S. career record. Kasey Keller played his 100th international game, matching Tony Meola’s American mark for goalkeepers.

Canada hasn’t beaten the United States since 1985, a run of futility that stretched to 13 matches with Thursday night’s loss. But the Maple Leafs not only were able to score a goal, their first in seven games against the Americans, but probably deserved another.

Iain Hume put a ball over the crossbar from 25 yards in the 75th minute. He was back to bother goalkeeper Kasey Keller a minute later. Dribbling into the box, he turned defender Carlos Bocanegra around and got the ball on his left foot. He took a hard shot to the far corner of the net, and Keller had no chance.

That goal will be little consolation to the Maple Leafs, especially after they thought they tied the game in the final minute of stoppage time. Atiba Hutchinson put a shot past Keller, but Mexican referee Benito Archundia waved the goal off, saying the Canadian was offside.

Replays showed the ball went off U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu, and that Canadian attackers appeared to be even with the last American defender, meaning the goal should have counted. Canadian players vehemently argued to no avail with Archundia, who seconds later blew the final whistle.

The Americans can’t have been happy with the finish, either. This was the second straight game they gave up a late goal – Panama scored in the 84th minute in the quarterfinals.

And they’ll have to play Sunday without Hejduk, who gives them energy and speed.

Hejduk, who turns 33 on Aug. 5, was on the initial U.S. roster for last summer’s World Cup in Germany. But the day after the team was announced, he discovered he had torn ligaments in his knee and needed surgery. He still made the trip to Germany, but the closest he got to being on the team was hanging out at the hotel in Hamburg.

He didn’t play for the U.S. team again until June 8, against Guatemala. But he’s making up for all that lost time.

After struggling to finish several chances – a recurring theme for the Americans lately – Hejduk finally got the offense on track in the 39th minute.

Pablo Mastroeni collected the ball on the right side of the field after a set piece by DaMarcus Beasley. He passed across the field to Donovan, who tapped the ball back to into Hejduk’s path at the top of the box.

Bradley would have been in Hejduk’s way, but the youngster dropped to the ground and Hejduk took a solid shot with his right foot. The ball hit the left post and caromed into the goal past a diving Paul Onstad.

It was the 32-year-old Hejduk’s first goal since June 11, 2000, against Mexico, and it sent him on a mad dash across the field. He slapped hands with coach Bob Bradley and the players on the bench, pumping his fists as the rests of his teammates mobbed him.

Seven minutes later, the Americans were celebrating again.

Onstad, who was starting because No. 1 goalie Greg Sutton is still feeling the effects of a concussion, tripped up Beasley on a breakaway in front of the goal. He was given a yellow card, and the referees awarded the Americans a penalty kick.

Donovan connected on a perfect shot, nestling the ball behind a diving Onstad. The team ran over to Beasley, who was still being attended to on the sideline.


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