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US scores late for 2-1 victory over Jamaica in Gold Cup final

Washington, July 27, (GNA/dpa) – A goal in the
88th minute by Jordan Morris ensured a 2-1 victory for the United
States over Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Wednesday.

The Reggae Boyz were undaunted by a Jozy
Altidore goal in the 45th minute and came out in the second half
looking for the equalizer, which Je-Vaughn Watson found in the 50th minute off
teammate Kemar Lawrence’s corner kick.

Both teams had dangerous free-kick
opportunities in the last 10 minutes of regular time at Levi’s Stadium in Santa
Clara, California, but neither side could convert.

Overall, the hosts dominated with 73 per cent
of possession and 13 shots on goal, to just six for Jamaica.

Late in the game, at the end of another long
chain of passes deep in Jamaica’s half, the US found substitute Gyasi Zardes,
who had entered 12 minutes earlier, in the right corner.

He struck a cross that was headed by a
Jamaican defender away from the goal area but toward Clint Dempsey, who had
been brought on in the 55th minute for the US. He was able to lunge
reflexively with one foot, stopping the ball.

Morris was two steps away, which allowed him
to wind up and rocket the shot from about 12 metres through traffic into the
upper right of the goal, past the fingertips of diving Jamaican goalkeeper
Dwayne Miller.

After the game, Morris noted that he was
marking Watson when he scored the Jamaican goal.

“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 told broadcaster Fox Sports. “I obviously have to take
responsibility for that, but luckily I could put it in the back of the
net.”

The hosts rode out the rest of regular time
and four minutes of injury time – in which US 
goalkeeper Tim Howard was shown a yellow card for stalling – to lift
their sixth Gold Cup, second only to Mexico’s seven trophies.

Jamaica’s starting goalkeeper, Andre Blake,
had carried the team through the knockout stage of the tournament, as his team
secured a 2-1 victory over Canada in the quarter-finals and shock 1-0 win
against Mexico in the semis. But, he was forced from the field on Wednesday
night in Santa Clara due to injury.

In the 20th minute Blake blocked an
Altidore shot and jumped on Kellyn Acosta’s attempt on the rebound. Blake,
injured, was down for five minutes and was eventually replaced by Miller.

The keeper appeared later on the podium after
the game with a bandaged hand.

The loss for Jamaica, who have never come near
a major football trophy in any competition outside the Caribbean, saw them blow
their second chance in a Gold Cup final.

In 2015, they lost the final to Mexico after
upsetting the US in the semi-final.

“This game was amazing,” Morris
said. “Credit to Jamaica – they made it very tough for us.”

Alongside Mexico and the US, only Canada has
ever lifted the Gold Cup in 14 tournaments held by the Confederation of North,
Central American and Caribbean Association Football.

The US has now not lost in 14 games since
coach Bruce Arena took the team’s helm in November.

“Bruce brought in a new energy,”
Altidore said. “He’s a very experienced guy, he knows a lot of the
American players, and he just gave us a tremendous lift.”

Aside from the Gold Cup success, Arena has now
pushed the US side up into third place in regional qualifying for the World
Cup, good for a ticket to Russia if they can hold onto the spot with four games
remaining.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,”
Altidore admitted post-game. “We beat a good Jamaican team, but we know we
can improve. We know we can be better, so we enjoy the night and tomorrow we
get back to work.”

GNA

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