United States secured their place in the semi-finals with a dominant victory ©Getty Images

United States moved a step closer to qualifying for the men’s Rio 2016 football tournament after booking a place in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship semi-final by thrashing Cuba at Sporting Park, Kansas City.

Having secured a victory over rivals Canada in their opening Group A match the American team knew a victory would see them advance to the knock-out phase and they began in impressive style as they took a 15th minute lead.

A dangerous free-kick was swung into the Cuban box and central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, the youngest member of the American team at just 17-years-old, steered an excellent header past the goalkeeper Sandy Mustelier.

The second US goal also came from a defender as Matt Miazga met a right wing cross by Matt Polster to head into the net and a 3-0 lead was established seven minutes from half-time as Jerome Kiesewetter rolled into the Cuban net after a square pass from striker Jordan Morris.

Kiesewetter, who starred in the win over Canada, struck again in similar style at the start of the second half after Cuba’s defence had failed to cut out a low cross by Marc Pelosi.

With the victory and the place in the semi-final almost certainly assured the American team began looking to add further gloss to an impressive scoreline and Emerson Hyndman lashed a right foot shot into the net from the edge of the area with 20 minutes remaining to give his team a five goal cushion.

A demoralised Cuban team then gave Alonso Hernandez too much space inside their area, allowing the American forward to chalk up his first goal in an Under 23 match for his country.

Cuba were able to gain a consolation goal as Daniel Luis Saez long range shot deflected into the net in injury time to see the game end 6-1.

Michael Petrasso scored his second goal in two games to help Canada overcome Panama
Michael Petrasso scored his second goal in two games to help Canada overcome Panama ©Getty Images

Following their defeat to the Americans an immediate response was required by Canada if they were to get their hopes of consecutive appearances at the Olympic football tournament back on track and after an entertaining opening 30 minutes against Panama they finally made the breakthrough.

Michael Petrasso latched onto an excellent pass from Caleb Clarke in the Panama penalty area and the winger fired past the helpless goalkeeper Elieser Powell from close range.

Canada were handed another boost three minutes later as Panama’s Carlos Small received a straight red card for an elbow and with the extra man advantage the lead was doubled a minute later, with a Skylar Thomas header striking both posts before nestling in the net.

Panama struck back through Abdiel Arroyo with 15 minutes of the match remaining to give his side a brief glimpse of a comeback, but it was ended by Ben Fisk as he made the most of the increase space with the game stretched to restore his team’s two goal lead by passing into net from the edge of the area.

The 3-1 victory moved Canada into second in the group and should they beat Cuba in their final tie, they will be assured of progression to the semi-finals.

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