Jozy Altidore continued his hot streak with a set piece goal and Jordan Morris scored a stunning late goal as the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 in a thrilling Gold Cup final in Santa Clara, California. This Gold Cup championship marks the sixth time that the U.S. has held the trophy.
Jamaica found itself without its star goalkeeper, Andre Blake, who suffered an injury after saving a shot attempt by Kellyn Acosta. As it turned out, Jamaica’s backup goalie, Dwayne Miller, nearly became a national hero. Throughout the match, Miller made one spectacular save after the next, especially during a frenetic final 10-minute period which saw the U.S. pummel shot after shot on goal.
Although the U.S. dominated the Gold Cup final by possessing the ball 73 percent of the time and putting eight shots on goal, Jamaica found itself right there until the end. Just before the end of the first half, as both teams were getting ready to the locker rooms scoreless, Altidore stunned the Santa Clara crowd with a spectacular goal off a free kick in the 45th minute. Jamaica appeared to right the ship after Je-Vaughn Watson netted the equalizer in the 50th minute. In the 55th minute, Bruce Arena elected to bring in Clint Dempsey as a substitution, and the decision nearly paid off as Dempsey slammed a shot off the goal post late in the second half. After faltering defensively, Jordan Morris ended up a hero after scoring the game-winning goal in the 89th minute.
It’s been an up-and-down tournament for the United States who attracted many doubters after their uninspiring 3-2 victory over Martinique in the group qualifying stage. However, once out of the group stage, the U.S. has appeared to improve with every performance. The U.S. defeated El Salvador 2-0 in the team’s quarterfinal match and went on to defeat Costa Rica by the same score in the semifinal round.
Since taking over for Jurgen Klinsmann late in 2016, Bruce Arena remains undefeated after compiling a record of nine wins and five draws. Many are hoping that the team can attain the same success that it saw under Arena’s leadership between 1998 and 2006. Fans certainly remember the memorable 2002 World Cup run when the U.S. made it to the quarterfinals before falling short against Germany. With the 2018 World Cup fast approaching, everyone is hoping that Arena has one more magical run left.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]