Morris' goal leads US over Jamaica 1-0, giving Arena win
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 04, 2017 12:02 PM
United States' Juan Agudelo (9) jumps over Jamaica's Alvas Powell (5) during first half of a friendly soccer match Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/Billy Weeks)
STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Morris scored in the 59th minute, and the United States beat Jamaica 1-0 Friday night to give Bruce Arena the first win of his second stint as national team coach.
With the U.S. scoreless streak at 280 minutes, Benny Feilhaber took a 20-yard pass from Dax McCarty and played the ball to Morris with a back-heel pass. Morris returned the ball to Feilhaber, who was making his first start in five years.
Feilhaber dribbled into the penalty area and pushed the ball back to Morris. The 22-year-old forward, last season's Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, took a touch and beat goalkeeper Ryan Thompson inside the near post with a right-footed shot from 8 yards. It was the second international goal for Morris, who also scored against Mexico in an April 2015 exhibition.
After starting 0-2 final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean, the U.S. resumes the hexagonal March 24 against Honduras in San Jose, California, then plays four days later at Panama.
Before a crowd of 17,903 at Finley Stadium and playing a rare match on artificial turf, the Americans got their second straight shutout under Arena, who said a priority will be tightening the U.S. defense. A 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 rout at Costa Rica caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Jurgen Klinsmann, who had been in charge since 2011, and bring back Arena, the national team's coach from 1998-2006.
Arena changed nine starters from his return match, a 0-0 tie against Serbia last weekend.
Goalkeepers Luis Robles and David Bingham split halves and combined on the shutout. Central defender Walker Zimmerman made his international debut, and three players who made their debuts last weekend got their first starts: left back Jorge Villafana and midfielders Chris Pontius and Sebastian Lletget.
Right back Graham Zusi and central defender Steve Birnbaum were the only holdovers in the starting lineup against the Reggae Boyz, who knocked out the Americans in the semifinals of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Midfielder Dax McCarty made his first appearance in six years and forward Juan Agudelo made his first start since June 2015.
Captain Michael Bradley replaced Feilhaber in the 62nd minute, his first appearance off the bench since October 2011.
McCarty sent a header just over the crossbar in the seventh minute and Lletget sent a 19th-minute cross to Agudelo, whose shot was wide.
Jamaica nearly went ahead in the 34th minute after Cory Burke outsprinted Zusi down a flank on a counter and crossed. Robles got a hand on the ball and it deflected to Romario Williams, but the ball went off his left knee and wide.
Morris broke in alone in the 38th to chase a headed pass from Agudelo, and goalkeeper Andre Blake made a sliding save.