Morris's 88th-minute goal gives US Gold Cup title
United States' Jordan Morris (8) and Michael Bradley celebrate after Morris scored a goal against Jamaica during the second half of the Gold Cup final soccer match in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
By Janie McCauley, Associated Press
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jordan Morris scored a tie-breaking goal in the 88th minute, and the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 Wednesday night for its sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup title and first since 2013.
Jozy Altidore's goal on a 28-yard free kick in the 45th minute beat backup goalkeeper Dwayne Miller after Jamaica captain Andre Blake left early with a hand injury.
Je-Vaughn Watson tied the score when he got away from Morris for a 4-yard volley off Kemar Lawrence's 50th-minute corner kick.
Morris, a star at nearby Stanford from 2013-15, got the breakthrough goal with a 14-yard right-footed shot after Gyasi Zardes crossed. Jermaine Taylor tried to clear with a header and the ball was knocked by Clint Dempsey with a leg back to Morris. It was the fifth international goal for the 22-year-old Morris, who tied 16-year-old Canadian Alphonso Davies for the tournament lead with three goals.
"I was nervous. It was my guy that scored on the goal, so I was trying to make up for it any way that I could," Morris said. "Obviously. I take responsibility for that. But luckily I could put one in the back of the net."
The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 14 games (9-0-5) under Bruce Arena, who became the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles.
U.S. captain Michael Bradley earned the Golden Ball at the tournament's top player.
The Americans had a chance in the 19th minute when Altidore's swerving 30-yard shot was parried by Blake, who dived left and then beat Kellyn Acosta to the rebound at the 6-yard box. Acosta collided with Blake and appeared to kick the keeper's right hand before Jamaica's Damion Lowe cleared. Blake's hand was wrapped but he couldn't continue and was replaced by Miller four minutes later. As Blake left the field, he acknowledged the cheering fans with a wave of his left hand, then later emerged for the medal ceremony with his hand bandaged.
Altidore put the U.S. ahead with a curling shot past Miller's outstretched right hand into the upper corner of the net just beneath the crossbar, his 39th goal in 108 appearances.
Lawrence, who scored in a 1-0 semifinal win Sunday against Mexico, took another corner kick in the 75th minute moments after Alvas Powell's shot from close range deflected off Graham Zusi — a sequence that had Tim Howard yelling at the defense.
Using a lineup with about half its regular starters — the rest are in preseason with European clubs — the U.S. reached its record 10th final. The Reggae Boyz were a surprising final opponent after they stunned Mexico in a semifinal Sunday to reach the title match for a second straight time.
With 18 of 22 starters from Major League Soccer, this was a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal won 2-1 by Jamaica at Atlanta. For the first time since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann in November, Arena kept his lineup unchanged. He inserted the 34-year-old Dempsey in the 55th minute.
Chunks of turf came loose yet again at Levi's Stadium, the $1.2 billion, 3-year-old home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers. The field has been an ongoing issue.
The Americans hope for momentum built during this run as they prepare to resume World Cup qualifying. The U.S faces Costa Rica in a rematch of the Gold Cup semifinal on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and play four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.