WATCH: Jordan Morris Scores Gold Cup-Winning Goal for USA vs. Jamaica
The U.S. men's national team captured its sixth Gold Cup title Wednesday night, with the Americans securing the trophy on Jordan Morris's 88th-minute winner, which delivered a 2-1 triumph over upstart Jamaica at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Jozy Altidore opened the scoring with a sensational free kick just before halftime, but Je-Vaughn Watson equalized mere minutes into the second half, beating Morris to the spot on a free kick to volley home the equalizer.
Morris's heroics returned the Americans to the title podium, though, restoring the USA as CONCACAF champion for the first time since 2013.
Bruce Arena's men wobbled through the early stages of the competition but saved their best for the semifinal, ousting Costa Rica in a 2-0 result sparked by super substitute Clint Dempsey. His assist and goal accounted for the second-half surge that sent the USA to another final and the cusp of a trophy. Dempsey's goal also pulled him level with Landon Donovan for the USMNT scoring record (57).
Jamaica, however, had eyes on spoiling the party and was hoping for an improvement on a runner-up finish in 2015. The Reggae Boyz, who eliminated the USA in the 2015 semifinals, ousted Mexico on Kemar Lawrence's late free kick to reach the final and was not daunted by the stage, though they were delivered a setback when star goalkeeper Andre Blake was forced out with an early injury.
The USA looked to push early, with Darlington Nagbe having a ball squeeze his way at the top of the Jamaica box, only to have his left-footed chance blocked before it could cause any damage in the opening minutes.
The quality in the final third was lacking in the opening quarter hour, with the U.S. mishitting a couple of crosses in the attacking end and Jamaica unable to really test the U.S. defense. Jamaica's back line prevented the U.S., which dominated the ball in the early going to the tune of 70% possession, from finding attacking rhythm with a series of hard tackles, courtesy of Jermaine Taylor, Watson and Damion Lowe.
Altidore delivered the first eye-opening moment of the match in the 19th minute, forcing a tremendous save from Blake with a 30-yard rocket. Kellyn Acosta appeared to injure Blake's hand on the rebound, clattering into the goalkeeper trying to be first to the loose ball.
Blake, in substantial pain and clearly upset, had his right hand wrapped and had to be subbed off in the 22nd minute, replaced by Dwayne Miller–a massive blow to Jamaica's hopes given his play in the competition.
The speedy Darren Mattocks came up with Jamaica's best foray forward in the 38th minute, embarking on a 60-yard run that ultimately resulted in a fruitless corner kick, as the U.S. defense recovered.
With the match veering toward halftime at 0-0, Altidore delivered the breakthrough. His free kick stunner from 30 yards out gave the USA a 1-0 lead, with Miller only able to get a fingertip on the curling blast over the Jamaica wall.
Jamaica pulled something out of nothing less than five minutes into the second half off a Lawrence corner kick, with Watson delivering a perfect volley after beating Morris to the spot by the far post to make it 1-1.
The USA's Liga MX connection nearly delivered another go-ahead strike in the 64th minute, when Santos Laguna left back Jorge Villafaña's cross from the left found Club Tijuana winger Paul Arriola, but his header was hit right at Miller, who controlled the save with ease.
Morris then forced an instinctive, full-extension save from Miller in the 73rd minute, with Altidore's ball deflected into the Seattle striker's path. He let a rip go from about 18 yards, but the backup goalkeeper tipped it over the bar.
On a counterattack seconds later, Jamaica picked apart the USA with precision, and a dangerous cross from the right was nearly put in off a deflection, with both Michael Bradley and Graham Zusi failing to clear the danger.
The action continued on the other end of the field with second-half substitute Dempsey, whose header from the center of the box in the 75th minute was tipped off the bar by a diving Miller in sensational fashion.
Morris got his redemption for his earlier defensive lapse, and it came late. A cross from substitute Gyasi Zardes was cleared off of Dempsey and into Morris's path, and he fired a rocket by Miller for the go-ahead goal in the 88th minute.
The U.S. saw the danger out from there, cementing the title and taking a step toward qualifying for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup. Should it win the 2019 Gold Cup as well, the Americans would secure automatic entry.
Here are the rosters for both teams:
GOALKEEPERS: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENDERS: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
GOALKEEPERS: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Damion Hyatt (Arnett Gardens FC), Dwayne Miller (Valsta Syrianska IK)
DEFENDERS: Sergio Campbell (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders FC), Shaun Francis (Montreal Impact), Rosario Harriott (Harbour View FC), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Damion Lowe (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United FC), Jermaine Taylor (Minnesota United FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Binns (Portmore United FC), Ewan Grandison (Portmore United FC), Kevon Lambert (FK Vojvodina), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United FC), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS: Cory Burke (Bethlehem Steel FC), Owayne Gordon (Montego Bay United FC), Jermaine Johnson (Tivoli Gardens FC), Darren Mattocks (Portland Timbers), Shamar Nicholson (Boys' Town FC), Romario Williams (Charleston Battery)