Morris nets brace for win
U.S. 3, MARTINIQUE 2 Americans at top of Group B
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.