The United States Men’s National Team won the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Wednesday night after defeating Jamaica in dramatic fashion, 2-1, with a late Jordan Morris winner at Levi’s Stadium.
The USA won its sixth Gold Cup, and trails only Mexico, who has won the continental competition seven times.
After Philadelphia Union star goalkeeper Andre Blake was subbed off in the 22nd minute with a hand injury, the USA opened the scoring in the 45th minute behind a Jozy Altidore free kick. Jamaica equalized in the 50th when Je-Vaughn Watson finished off a corner kick. With the match headed towards extra time, Morris smashed a rebound off a Gyasi Zardes cross into the back of the net in the 89th minute to win the final.
Jamaica was the runner-up for the second straight Gold Cup after losing the 2015 final 3-1 to Mexico. The USA won the competition for the first time since defeating Panama 1-0 in the final in 2013. Head Coach Bruce Arena won his third Gold Cup, adding to his titles from 2002 and 2005.
The USA dominated the Jamaicans on the statsheet, with a 73% to 23% possession advantage, a 13 to six shot advantage, and an eight to three shots-on-goal advantage. Despite their dominance, the Americans created few chances and sweated out the result until the very end.
The match started as expected, with Jamaica dropping deep and soaking up the American pressure, letting the USA play the ball in front of their backline. The USA struggled on the flanks and looked occasionally vulnerable to the pace of Darren Mattocks.
In the 20th minute, Altidore ripped a shot from distance that Blake did well to parry at full stretch. On the ensuing rebound Kellyn Acosta swung through ball but hacked Blake’s hand, forcing the keeper to go down with an injury and leave the match for backup keeper Dwayne Miller. X-rays on Blake’s hand have come back negative.
There was little action either way until a free kick in the 45th minute from about 30 yards out and slightly right of center. Jozy Altidore stepped up and curled a beauty into the top-left corner to give the Americans the lead with his 39th international goal. While the Jamaicans eventually equalized, there was and will be much discussion on whether or not Blake would have saved the free kick. It did appear as though Miller was just a half-step slow on a savable ball.
The Jamaicans did respond after the break and earned themselves a corner kick in the 50th minute. Je-Vaughn Watson snuck past his marker Jordan Morris at the back post and connected first time with a sharp volley on Kemar Lawrence’s delivery to level the match at 1-1.
American supersub Clint Dempsey entered the game in the 55th minute in pursuit of his 58th international goal to take the sole spot in program history. 20 minutes later, he came inches away from scoring another when his powerful header from a Jorge Villafana cross was tipped onto the post by Dwyane Miller.
Gyasi Zardes was subbed on for Paul Arriola in the 76th minute as the USA looked increasingly desperate to find a winner and avoid extra time. The breakthrough finally came in the 89th minute, when Zardes fired in a cross from the right side that bounced off Minnesota United defender Jermaine Taylor. The ricochet popped off Dempsey and back to Jordan Morris. The 22-year-old striker then fired a one-time blast into the upper-right corner to send Levi’s Stadium into delirium.
The strike was Morris’ fifth international goal in his 22nd cap.
As Jamaica chased the game in the dying moments, head coach Theodore Whitmore subbed on Bethlehem Steel man Cory Burke.
The USA resumes World Cup Qualifying for 2018 against Costa Rica on September 1.