Watch: Jordan Morris Lifts USMNT To 3-2 Win Vs Martinique In Gold Cup Group Play
Jordan Morris proved to be the savior of the U.S. Men’s National Team on Wednesday night, as he scored two goals to lift the Americans to a 3-2 victory over Martinique in their second CONCACAF Gold Cup group-stage game in Tampa, Florida.
U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Gold Cup
“It’s all about team, all about the three points,” Morris, 22, said after the Americans improved to 31-1-4 during the Gold Cup group stage. The U.S. leads Group B with four points after tying 1-1 with Panama in its tournament opener, and next faces Nicaragua in Cleveland on Saturday. Panama is second in Group B and also has four points after beating Nicaragua 2-1 on Wednesday.
After a scoreless first half that included several close chances for the U.S., Omar Gonazlez put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute. A low corner kick from Kellyn Acosta was batted out by a defender, and Paul Arriola attempted to convert on the deflection with a shot from just outside the box but his effort was blocked by Martinique goalkeeper Kevin Olimpia. Gonzalez poked in the rebound from about four yards for his second international goal.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 13, 2017
Gonzalez praised Martinique for their performance, and said his team needed to play smarter and concentrate more until the final whistle.
“They didn’t stop running, didn’t stop playing,” said the 28-year-old defender, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca. “We need to be smarter, more focused throughout the entire game.”
Morris made it 2-0 just over ten minutes later. Second-half substitute Alejandro Bedoya — who came on for Acosta — fed Eric Lichag, who bolted down the right sideline and crossed to Morris. The Seattle Sounders forward one-timed a shot from the near post for his third international goal.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 13, 2017
Martinique tied it 2-2 with goals from Kevin Parsemain in the 66th and 74th minutes. Parsemain first fired a shot through traffic from just outside the top of the box to beat goalie Brad Guzan, and then knocked in a rebound of teammate Johan Audel’s close-range shot that also deflected off Audel.
Less than two minutes after Parsemain’s second score, Morris sealed the victory for the U.S. by taking a ground cross from Gyasi Zardes from the left side of the box and one-timing a shot from near the penalty spot into the top-right corner.
“Morris put the U.S. up again 3-2 vs. #MTQ with this goal! #GoldCup2017,” Univision Deportes tweeted.
— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) July 13, 2017
The narrowly missed scoring opportunities for the U.S. in the first half included a cross from Zardes to Morris just over two minutes in that flew wide of the left post, and a low header Morris took in the eleventh minute that also soared too wide left.
Martinique nearly scored the opening goal in the 33rd minute when Parsemain fired a low shot from inside the box that passed Guzan but hit the right post. The visitors also had two opportunities in the final minutes of the first half: a corner-kick header that went wide of Guzan’s right post, and then a long-range shot from Parsemain from the left that the goalkeeper caught.
“We’re certainly guilty of making the game a lot more difficult on us than it needed to be,” said U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who added that he still believed his team played well.
Arena made eight lineup changes in total on Wednesday. In addition, midfielder Christian Roldan made his U.S. national team debut and defender Justin Morrow his first international appearance in over four years. Lichaj had not played for the U.S. since May 2016.
The Americans are 5-0-5 since Arena took over for Jurgen Klinsmann last November.
The U.S. and Martinique had only played once before, in the group stage of the 2003 Gold Cup. The Americans won that game 2-0.
Martinique — a tiny island that is a French overseas department and has a population of 385,000 people — is not eligible for World Cup qualifying or other FIFA tournaments.
“A lot of pleasure from this game. Too bad that we got scored on right after coming back,” Martinique coach Jean-Marc Civault said through a translator. “Honestly, the U.S. was superior in keeping the ball, but I’m very proud of my players’ performance.”
TAMPA, FL – JULY 12: Jordan Morris #8 of the United States brings the ball up past Daniel Herelle #19 of Martinique during the first half of the CONCACAF Group B match at Raymond James Stadium on July 12, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)