Jordan Morris scored twice, including the victor, as part of a wild five-goal second half as the United States defeated Martinique 3-2 in a Group B match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday.
Right as it seemed as if the game was in the bag, Martinique came back by finally beating keeper Brad Guzan. The CONCACAF region to which the USA belongs (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) is in the middle of a World Cup qualifying tournament that will conclude in October.
It was Darren Mattocks who sparked the team into life, coming off the bench to score the second goal in a 2-0 win.
Martinique also had their chances in the first half, with Kevin Parsemain shooting wide on a volley and hitting the post later.
Even after the USA took the lead, Zardes kept on hustling and competing, helping run down the clock by holding up the ball and frustrating Martinique's defenders.
The end-to-end flow continued, as Jordan Morris was thwarted by Martinique goalkeeper Kévin Olimpa just a minute later, the former Ligue 1 goalkeeper making four saves on the night. Germany won it July 2 in St. Petersburg, Russia, defeating Chile 1-0 in the final. Although the Yanks generated eight corner kicks and a few risky free kicks with their control of the ball, they were beaten to almost every one by a Martinique defender. Arriola's six-yard stab off Agudelo's deflected shot smacked the crossbar, and Morris wasn't able to chip a shot over advancing goalkeeper Kevin Olimpa.
The excitement began at a sold out, 30,000 capacity Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ) on Friday night with a Group A double header when Canada defeated debutants French Guiana, 4-2, and in the nightcap, amidst a deafening and electric atmosphere created by fans, Costa Rica got past Honduras in a masterful game as both teams, inspired by their supporters, played one of the most exciting Gold Cup games. His two goals in the second half proved to be the difference in the match. The second-place team would be determined by the goal differential tiebreaker between the USA and Panama, in which they are now even. The United States is playing with nearly no urgency, precision or energy right now.
They gave an uninspiring performance in the first half and were fortunate not to fall behind. He was noticeably more comfortable on the ball than the other American defenders - and most of the midfielders for that matter - and was consistently in good defensive position.
The first half against Martinique was the worst 45 minutes of play from a US national team since the 4-0 defeat to Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifiers in November.
Failing to break through in the first half, the US built a 2-0 lead on goals by Omar Gonzalez in the 53rd minute and Morris in the 64th.
8th minute, 0-0: The U.S. has enjoyed the majority of possession, but there hasn't been any A+ scoring chances for the Americans.
While they may be the future, soccer's popularity in the USA still lags behind other major sports, at least for now.
When Bruce Arena named his roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, neither Gyasi Zardes nor Jordan Morris had been playing all that well in MLS.
The match against Nicaragua will be crucial for the USA hopes of winning the group.
It wasn't easy for the USMNT against Martinique on Wednesday night at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.