Christian Pulisic captained the USA to victory over El Salvador and with it a place in the CONCACAF Nations League semi-finals this summer, while David Fofana found the net as the Ivory Coast Under-23s claimed victory in a friendly tournament.
Needing to avoid defeat to guarantee finishing in the final four of a competition they won in 2021, the USA made seven changes to the team that thrashed Grenada on Friday, with Pulisic one of those to retain his place. He again lined up on the left-hand side of the three behind striker Daryl Dike.
An uneventful first half in Orlando passed with both keepers only making one save of note each, before the USA emerged with renewed urgency. Pulisic found Gio Reyna who cut inside and saw his shot hit the post having been deflected.
Ricardo Pepi, who scored twice against Grenada, was introduced on the hour and immediately made an impact, latching on to Reyna’s pass and delightfully chipping the El Salvador keeper. It was his second touch of the match, and proved the decisive one as the USA held on to win 1-0 and finish top of CONCACAF Nations League Group D.
They will now contest the finals in the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas between 15 June and 18 June, where Chelsea played in pre-season. Mexico have also clinched a semi-final berth while it is between Canada and Costa Rica, and Panama and Honduras, for the final two places.
The group winner with the most points will face the fourth-ranked team, and the second and third-ranked teams will meet in the other semi-final.
David Fofana hit the back of the net as the Ivory Coast Under-23s claimed victory in a three-team friendly tournament in Morocco, winning their final match to top the table at the end of the week-long competition.
The Chelsea striker had already skippered his country to an opening victory over the hosts and then a 0-0 draw with Uzbekistan, meaning they went into their final match against Togo as the only unbeaten team, knowing victory would guarantee them first spot in the standings.
That result never looked in doubt from the moment that Fofana, wearing the captain's armband again, opened the scoring right at the end of the first half. Two further goals after the break from his strike partner Karim Konate of Red Bull Salzburg made the final score 3-0 to the Ivory Coast and secured tournament victory for the Elephants in Morocco.