The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario with a gritty 1-0 victory over Paraguay at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

In their final match in group play (they previously lost 2-0 to Colombia and beat Costa Rica 4-0), a first-half goal by Clint Dempsey propelled the Americans into the knockout stage of the tournament—a special 100th-anniversary edition of one of international soccer's premier competitions, which is being held in the U.S. for the first time.

Improbably, the host nation not only managed to advance, but thanks to Colombia's surprising loss to Costa Rica later on Saturday night, they ended up finishing first in Group A, and will therefore meet the runners-up of Group B in the quarterfinals. The U.S. now have a good chance of avoiding perennial powerhouse Brazil (against whom they have won only one of 18 previous encounters), and could instead face Ecuador or Peru on Thursday in Seattle, depending on the results of today's matches.

Saturday's triumph marks one of the signature moments of Jurgen Klinsmann's five-year tenure as USMNT head coach and technical director. Just days ago, his job appeared to be in potential jeopardy after a lackluster showing against Colombia. Now, with his team playing some of its best soccer on a high-profile stage, his claim that the U.S. could make the Copa America semifinals hardly seems as far-fetched as it did before the tournament.

Often criticized for his incessant tinkering with lineups and player positions, Klinsmann trotted out the same starting XI for the third straight match -- the first time that's happened under his watch. Continuity on the back line was particularly key, as Paraguay came out with intent and aggression on the attack, needing a win to keep their own quarterfinal hopes alive. In the 11th minute, the Albirroja found themselves with a three-on-one advantage on a counterattacking break, but a perfectly-timed tackle by U.S. defender John Brooks snuffed out the threat.

With Paraguay throwing numbers forward, American attacker Gyazi Zardes eventually found himself with space to operate along the left flank in the 27th minute. As two defenders converged on him, he patiently sized up his options and picked out Dempsey making a run into the middle of the Paraguay penalty area. The Seattle Sounders man one-timed a left-footed shot into the net from ten yards out for his 51st international goal, putting him just six behind Landon Donovan for the USMNT's all-time scoring record.

The U.S. had to survive most of the final 45 minutes with just ten men, as wingback DeAndre Yedlin was sent off after receiving a pair of yellow cards for reckless tackles within a span of a minute early in the second half. Klinsmann made an immediate adjustment, sacrificing Dempsey in favor of backup defender Michael Orozco.

From that point, it was all about holding on for the Americans, as Paraguay dominated possession and escalated the physicality of their play. U.S. forward Bobby Wood, in particular, was the target of a number of hard challenges, most of which were ignored by referee Julio Bascunan, drawing vociferous protests from U.S. players, coaching staff, and partisans amongst the crowd of 51,041.

The U.S. defense stood stout, though, and despite all their time with the ball, Paraguay failed to capitalize on their opportunities. Their best chances came in the 82nd minute, but close-range shots by Jorge Benitez and Miguel Almiron were denied by impressive reflex saves from U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

An apparent Paraguay goal in the 89th minute was waved off by an offside flag, and the hosts were able to preserve the clean sheet through six minutes of stoppage time to secure the victory.

"Absolutely fantastic performance, especially after the red card for DeAndre," Klinsmann said during his post-match press conference. "The way they kept their shape, their discipline, the way they worked for each other was an absolutely outstanding performance."

Of his team's hopes and prospects going forward in Copa America, he added: "It's just a wonderful opportunity for our team to play these type of games and just grow and rise to the occasion. We have nothing to lose."