The Stars and Stripes of United States of America won this year’s edition of CONCACAF Gold Cup on home soil by beating Jamaica by two-goals-to one inside the Levi Stadium, Santa Clara, California,USA.
The opening ten minutes of the match showed that Jamaica intended to stick to the defensive game plan they have employed since the competition started – they fell back to their half of the pitch, defending in numbers while waiting for opportunities to score via counter-attacking play.
USA were the more dominant side in the first half ; they had majority of the ball possession and took the game to the opponent’s half as they searched for goals.
The number of players Jamaica threw to the mid-field and the flanks prevented USA from making inroads into their opponent’s half in the early exchanges. But after some time, the combination play between Paul Arriola and Graham Zusi started to open up Jamaica’s defense line from the right flank.
In the nineteenth minute, Jerzy Altidore struck a powerful shot from outside the penalty box which was curling into the net before goalkeeper Andre Blake dived towards the ball and punched it out of its course : taking the sting out of the shot; as he attempted to catch the ball with his second attempt, an onrushing Kellyn Acousta hit the ball out of hand injuring him in the process.
The injured Blake was replaced by reserve goalkeeper, Dwayne Miller.
Although the Reggae Boyz were overly defensive in their approach to the game, they occasionally appeared dangerous on the counter-attack, but the well-drilled USA’s defense line dealt with those few attacking threats without much efforts.
With the USA’s strikers finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate into the opponent’s eighteen yard box, right full back Graham Zusi and central half Omar Gonzalez started making runs into the opponent’s goal mouth in order to shore up the attack.
The one-sided play in the first half saw goalkeeper Tim Howard having little or nothing to do in the first half.
Jamaica’s only scoring chance came in the thirty eighth minute when Darren Mattocks dribbled into USA’s penalty box from the left flank, but a sliding tackle from a USA’s defender thwarted his attempt to field a reverse pass to his team mate inside the penalty box.
USA scored their first goal of the match from a free kick which was awarded to them when Romario Williams hacked down Michael Bradley a few yards away from the penalty. Jerzy Altidore curled the ball over Jamaica’s four-man wall into the far corner of the goal post.
Jamaica became more purposeful in the opening minutes of the second half and scored their equalizer four minutes after resumption.
A Jamaica’s corner kick cleared the congested goal mouth area and fell in front of Je-Vaughn Watson who tapped the ball into the net before Tim Toward could catch it.
USA reacted swiftly to the goal they conceded by pouring forward in search of another goal, and their raucous fans cheered them on as they launched unceasing attacks against their opponent.
Jorge Villafana became an outlet of attacking play from the left, and his crosses from that position caused unending troubles for Jamaica defenders.
USA almost scored in the seventy fifth minute when Clint Dempsey powerful header hit the goal post.
Bruce Arena’s decision to bring in Gyasi Zardes turned out to be an important change which played a great role in winning the match for his team. Zardes was able to dribble his way through the right flank into the opponent eighteen yard box, and made several dangerous crosses from that position into Jamaica’s goal mouth area.
As USA continued to attack their opponet in their own half , it became evident that at some point Jamaica’s defensive wall would crack open. And that was exactly what happened in the eighty eight minute when Zardes cross fell in front of Jordan Morris after two slight deflections; Moriss then fire a powerful shot into the net to secure a deserved victory for USA after a grueling ninety minutes of football against an ultra-defensive Jamaica side.