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Antonee Robinson, U.S. beat El Salvador in World Cup soccer qualifier

Antonee Robinson, U.S. beat El Salvador in World Cup soccer qualifier
Left back Antonee Robinson (5) scored off a Jesus Ferreira assist in the second half of a United States Men's National Team win over El Salvador. Photo by Gustavo Amador/EPA-EFE

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Antonee Robinson smacked a half-volley laser into the net, then cartwheeled and backflipped to celebrate the lone score in a United States Men's National Team World Cup qualifier win over El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio.

"We are definitely one step closer," Robinson told reporters after the 1-0 win Thursday at Lower.com Field. "One game at a time. We are really happy to get the win. That's what we've been preparing for.

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"It wasn't the prettiest game. There were times when we played good football and times when we just had to dig it out."

The Americans played El Salvador to a 0-0 score through halftime. Robinson then broke the deadlock with his 52nd-minute half-volley.

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Forward Timothy Weah brought down a long pass up the right flank to spark the score. Weah split two defenders, dribbled into the box and ripped a shot. El Salvador goalie Mario Martinez blocked the attempt and the ball bounced high above the box.

Striker Jesus Ferreira got to the ball first and headed a pass to his left, which found Robinson.

The American right back let the ball bounce twice before he finished a strike into the right side of the net.

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Neither team found the net for the remainder of regulation. Martinez totaled four saves in the loss. The United States outshot El Salvador 17-6 and controlled possession for 63% of the match.

The Americans battle Canada in another World Cup qualifier at 3:05 p.m. EST Sunday in Hamilton, Ontario. El Salvador faces Honduras at 7:05 p.m. EST Sunday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The United States sits in second place, behind Canada, in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier standings. The Top 3 teams in the standings automatically qualify for the World Cup. The fourth-place team will enter a one-legged playoff against the winner of the Oceania region.

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"The big picture of this game is that we are still in very good position for World Cup qualifying," U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter told reporters. "The three points were vital at home and we achieved that. We are happy, but it's time to regroup and come up with a plan to attack Canada."

The 2022 men's World Cup starts Nov. 21 in Qatar.

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