WASHINGTON: Two goals from Jordan Morris helped a revamped United States hold off Martinique 3-2 on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Tampa, Florida.
Bruce Arena’s men, held to a 1-1 draw by Panama in their opening match, were again less than convincing, surrendering a 2-0 lead to minnows Martinique before Morris’s 76th-minute strike sealed the victory.
Arena made eight changes to the side that struggled to the draw with Panama but the US were unable to build any momentum in the scoreless first half.
“One of the things we’re trying to do in this tournament is look at players in our pool we haven’t seen much of,” said Arena, who named a squad dominated by talent from Major League Soccer with one eye on World Cup qualifying.
“I thought we played well tonight,” Arena said. “We’re guilty of making the game more difficult than it needed to be, but give Martinique credit.”
Omar Gonzalez settled some nerves with a goal in the 53rd minute, slotting in his second international goal after teammate Paul Arriola’s shot was deflected by Martinique keeper Olimpa.
The United States doubled their lead in the 64th as Eric Lichaj’s cross from the right found Morris.
But Martinique, trying to build on their opening win over Nicaragua, pulled level in little more than 10 minutes.
Kevin Parsemain curled a ball into the bottom of the net from outside the area in the 66th.
And Martinique were level after 75 when Parsemain was credited with a goal after teammate Johan Audel’s blast deflected off him on its way past US keeper Brad Guzan.
Just a minute later, however, Morris ran onto a cross from Gyasi Zardes and fired a shot past Olimpa.
“The key was never giving up,” said Gonzalez, who scored his second goal in 42 US appearances. “Obviously we made it really tough on ourselves and we could have done much better. The disappointing part is the fact that we let in two goals.
“I think moving forward there’s a lot that we can do better,” Gonzalez added.
Five-time winners of the regional championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean, the United States are atop Group B with four points.
They’re equal with Panama who rallied with two goals in seven minutes to beat Nicaragua in the opening game of the day’s double-header in Tampa.
After a scoreless first half, Nicaragua seized the lead in the 49th minute when Carlos Chavarria hit a right-footed shot from outside the box into the top left corner of the goal.
Just a minute later, Panama’s Ismael Diaz knotted the score with a left-footed effort from the center of the area.
Gabriel Torres followed with the game-winning goal in the 57th. AFP