Jordan Morris knew he had messed up big time in the Gold Cup championship game when he allowed Jamaica’s Je-Vaughn Watson to slip past him to score an equalizing goal.
It came off a corner kick five minutes into the second half, erasing the momentum Jozy Altidore had claimed for the United States in the closing seconds of the first half with a curling free kick from 30 yards.
“It was my guy who scored on the goal so I was trying to make up for it any way I could,” said Morris. “I just had to take responsibility for that but luckily I could put one in the back of the net.”
For Morris, his redemption couldn’t have been better timed. Pouncing on a deflected cross from USA teammate Gyasi Zardes, Morris squeezed a shot inside the right post in the 88th minute for what held up as the winning goal.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Morris. “Every time I step on the field it’s such an honor to represent my country. This game was amazing. Credit Jamaica – they made it very tough for us.”
The USMNT dominated the last 15 minutes of the game in Santa Clara, California. Clint Dempsey had a header glance off the left post in the 75th minute. Then in the 85th minutes, Dempsey took a low free kick from 25 yards out from the left side that Morris couldn’t redirect on frame.
But then a little less than three minutes later Morris made good on another deflection after Jamaica’s Jermaine Taylor failed to clear the ball from danger with a header. Goalkeeper Dwayne Miller couldn’t get to the blistering shot by Morris
“You saw the progression as we went through the tournament,” said Morris. “It’s always tough when you get a group of guys who haven’t played together in a while and get them on the same page. But the coaching staff does a great job … For us I think you saw we got better as the tournament went along and it culminated with tonight.”
The tournament title will give Bruce Arena and his players a boost heading into the final stage of World Cup qualifying, which begins in Sept. 1 against Costa Rica.
But all that mattered Wednesday night was the podium celebration.
Captain Michael Bradley said the team will begin focusing on World Cup qualifying again in a couple of days.
“We’re going to enjoy this right now,” Bradley said.
Added Altidore: “To have us lift this cup means everything.”
Jamaica starting goalkeeper Andre Blake received the Golden Glove award, but he was injured and had to be replaced just minutes before Altidore’s free kick goal.
The U.S. outshot Jamaica 13-6 and had six corner kicks while allowing just three.