Santa Clara (California), July 27 (IANS) Team US edged Jamaica 2-1 and grabbed the Concacaf Gold Cup football championship for the sixth time, thanks to a goal by Jordan Morris shortly before the end of the second half.
Head coach Bruce Arena, whose team was without the services of budding star Christian Pulisic and other players based in Europe on Wednesday, retained his undefeated record since taking the helm of the US national team last November, reports Efe.
An outstanding bending free kick by US forward Jozy Altidore in the 45th minute gave the Americans the early lead on Wednesday, but Jamaican midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson got the equaliser when he beat Morris and connected on a left-footed volley off of a corner kick.
The match at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara appeared headed for extra time, but the US squad broke down Jamaica’s defence with just minutes remaining in the second half.
Midfielder Gyasi Zardes fired in a cross that Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor failed to clear, instead heading the ball off the leg of American forward Clint Dempsey.
The ball then rolled slowly away from the goal, allowing Morris to backpedal slightly and then fire a powerful right-footed shot just away from the outstretched arms of Jamaican net minder Dwayne Miller, who had been the man of the match to that point.
Miller had come on in the 23rd minute after starter Andre Blake sustained an injury.
It was the sixth Gold Cup title for the United States, one short of Mexico’s seven, but Arena said that after a brief celebration his squad will get back to work on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The US team is currently in third place in the Concacaf region and will qualify for football’s main showcase event if it can hold that position.
“We’re a long way from qualifying for a World Cup, and that’s the objective, for sure,” Arena said, referring to key matches in September and October.
Jamaica, which finished as runner-up in this competition for the second straight time, upset Mexico 1-0 in the semifinals.