Jermaine Jones relished the chance to celebrate his first career United States goal.
Jones' score early in the second half broke a scoreless tie, leading the United States to a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals Sunday.
To celebrate his goal, Jones gave a salute, honoring his soldier father on Father's Day.
"It was a nice little gift," said Jones in postgame remarks translated from German by teammate Steve Cherundolo.
"It was a sign of respect," Jones said of the celebration.
The United States will face Panama in the semifinals on Wednesday in Houston. Panama beat El Salvador on penalty kicks.
Jones' goal came when he fired a shot from outside the penalty area in the 49th minute, and Jamaica defender Jermaine Taylor stuck out his foot, deflecting the ball past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
"The first one you score for the national team is always special, and even more so that it was a very important goal for us tonight," Jones said. "Hopefully a few more will come."
Jones was in the middle of several big plays until he left the game in the 75th minute for substitute Maurice Edu.
Jones seemed to be in position for a goal late in the opening half, when Ricketts saved a shot by Juan Agudelo and the rebound bounced straight to Jones, but he couldn't control the ball. Jones also drew a tackle from Taylor that earned the Jamaican defender a red card in the 67th minute.
"Jermaine has a good engine and has the ability in certain moments to get forward and be a threat," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "That was nice to see."
Jones' salute to his father wasn't the only reminder in this game of the importance of families.
Each was excused to attend their sisters' weddings — Dempsey in Texas and Donovan in California.
"Understanding them, understanding what families mean to them, you have to sometimes weigh things and make decisions," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "Ultimately, after speaking at different points with Landon and Clint, I knew how important both of these days were for them."
The players both hopped planes at about 11 p.m. Saturday and arrived in Washington early Sunday morning. Dempsey landed about 2 a.m. and Donovan didn't arrive until around 7:30 a.m.
After both players met with Bradley, he decided to include Dempsey in the starting lineup while Donovan was a substitute.
"He asked how I was feeling. I said, 'I'm ready to go,'" Dempsey said. "I wanted to make sure I came out today and do whatever I could to help the team win, and I was able to get the goal that sealed it."
It was the first U.S. game Donovan began on the bench since June 9, 2007. Donovan entered in the 65th minute to a huge cheer from the crowd, replacing Alejandro Bedoya.
"It's been a wonderful 24 hours," Donovan said.
Jones helped give the U.S. a man advantage for the final stretch of the match when he beat the defense in the middle of Jamaica's half. Jones was about to break free for a 1-on-1 chance when Taylor tackled him from behind, earning a red card.
"I thought we were in the game until we gave up the first goal," Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said. "Even one man down, I think we were still in the game, still getting chances."
Dempsey added the second goal with 10 minutes to play. Agudelo's cross found Dempsey alone on the left side of the goal. Ricketts came out to contest, and Dempsey avoided the tackle and put the ball in the unguarded net.
Even before Jones' score, the U.S. appeared to be wearing Jamaica down, holding a decided edge in offensive chances.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made two saves, both in the second half. Ricketts saved five shots, and the U.S. had several other attempts near the goal.
"We just played good football," Dempsey said. "We were patient. We were confident. We moved the ball around well."
Jamaica had its best opportunity early, and it took an excellent save by Howard to knock away Demar Phillips' shot from the left side of the goal box in the fourth minute.
Jamaica entered the game as the only team in the tournament to win all three of its group-stage games without allowing a goal, but the Reggae Boyz failed to earn their first win against the U.S.
The U.S. also suffered a blow early when striker Jozy Altidore left with a strained left hamstring and was replaced by Agudelo in the 12th minute. After the game, Bradley said he didn't know what Altidore's status would be for the remainder of the tournament.