KENYA BROWN - Thursday, July 27, 2017
An 88th minute goal from Jordan Morris helped the United States national team to a win over Jamaica in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, California.
The win gives the US their sixth title since the inception of the tournament in 1991 and their first since 2013.
The road to the final was a shaky one for the US as they went through the group stage of the Gold Cup. However, the inclusion of the veterans in the knockout stage saw some improvement in their play.
On the other side, they faced a Jamaica team that had to be brimming with confidence following their 1-0 upset win over Mexico in the semifinals. The team has been riding the fine form of goalkeeper Andre Blake throughout the tournament and that clearly proven in the game against Mexico prior to Kemar Lawrence's surprising free kick late in the game.
The Reggae Boyz came into the final with nothing to lose and the US wanted to make sure that they did not underestimate their opponent as they looked to reclaim supremacy in the region.
The game started out rather slow early on as the US could not find a rhythm in the attack, but that would soon change in the 20th minute when Jozy Altidore's effort was blocked by Blake. Kellyn Acosta charged in to pounce on the rebound, but in the process Blake would go down injured as he tried to smother the ball. He would eventually be subbed out of the game after 22 minutes.
With the game looking like it would remain scoreless heading into halftime, Altidore would step up and open up the scoring for the Americans. His blistering free kick beat Jamaica's substitute goalkeeper Dwayne Miller to his right to send the capacity crowd into raucous cheers.
It would appear that the goal would give the US some momentum as the two teams returned to play the second half, but Jamaica would level the score five minutes in when Je-Vaughn Watson out-muscled Morris to volley home a Lawrence corner kick.
The US had a couple of good chances to re-take the lead. Paul Arriola's head from a Jorge Villafana cross in the 64th minute went directly to Miller, who had no problems controlling the ball. Morris then forced Miller to tip the ball over the bar in the 73rd minute following his blistering strike from 18 yards out.
Clint Dempsey, who entered the game in the 55th minute, would have his own crack at Jamaica's goal as he headed a shot that Miller got his fingertips on and it bounced off the post.
The game looked like it was heading towards extra time until the 88th minute when a cross from Gyasi Zardes from the right was initially cleared by a Jamaican defender. However, the ball would head towards Dempsey, who then laid it into the path of Morris and he would make up for his defensive miscue to make the US got their hands on the cup.
The win sees the US extend their unbeaten run since Arena returned to the helm as national team boss.