Mor­ris nets brace for win

U.S. 3, MAR­TINIQUE 2 Amer­i­cans at top of Group B

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Steven Goff

The U.S. na­tional soccer team didn’t fig­ure to have much trou­ble with tiny Mar­tinique in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Wed­nes­day in Tampa. In­stead, the Amer­i­cans found them­selves in a heap of trou­ble on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

They gave an unin­spir­ing per­for­mance in the first half and were for­tu­nate not to fall be­hind. They scored twice in the sec­ond half to seem­ingly put the re­sult to rest, then con­ceded two goals in eight min­utes. Jor­dan Mor­ris, a sec­ond-year pro for the Seat­tle Sounders, came to the res­cue, how­ever, scor­ing the sec­ond of his two goals in the 76th minute for a 3-2 vic­tory at Ray­mond James Sta­dium.

“We made it re­ally tough on our­selves,” de­fender Omar Gon­za­lez said. “We could’ve done much bet­ter. That’s the dis­ap­point­ing part, the fact that we gave up two goals.”

The Amer­i­cans (1-0-1) jumped to the top of the Group B stand­ings and all but sealed a quar­ter­fi­nal place ahead of Satur­day’s group fi­nale against Nicaragua (02-0) in Cleve­land.

Panama (1-0-1) is even with the United States on points and goal dif­fer­en­tial but be­hind on to­tal goals. Mar­tinique (1-1-0) re­mains in con­tention in the 12-team com­pe­ti­tion.

Gon­za­lez pro­vided the lead in the 53rd minute by stab­bing in a re­bound from close range. In the 64th, an over­lap­ping Eric Lichaj crossed to the near post for Mor­ris’s re­di­rect from four yards.

Two min­utes later, how­ever, goal­keeper Brad Guzan didn’t do well with Kevin Parse­main’s 23yard bid, let­ting the ball slip past him at the right cor­ner. And in the 74th minute, a se­ries of de­flec­tions af­ter faulty U.S. de­fend­ing re­sulted in a shock­ing equal­izer.

Two min­utes passed, and Gyasi Zardes crossed from the left flank to Mor­ris, who smashed an eight­yarder into the top right cor­ner.

The only three start­ing holdovers from the week­end’s 1-1 draw with Panama were Gon­za­lez, Guzan and de­fen­sive mid­fielder Kel­lyn Acosta. U.S. coach Bruce Arena ex­tended op­por­tu­ni­ties to, among oth­ers, out­side backs Lichaj and Justin Mor­row, cen­ter back Matt Hedges and mid­fielder Cris­tian Roldan. Arena also rein­tro­duced Zardes and for­ward Juan Agudelo, and put Mor­ris and Paul Ar­riola on the spot.

In the night’s first match, Panama scored twice in a seven-minute span early in the sec­ond half to over­come a deficit and de­feat Nicaragua 2-1.

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