The U.S. national team's 2-1 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final was a reminder that things can turn quickly.
In the first half, the U.S. took the lead thanks to a set piece, with Jozy Altidore hitting a brilliant strike that left backup Jamaica goalkeeper Dwayne Miller with little chance. In the second half, Jamaica equalized on its first shot of the contest thanks to a set-piece goal of its own — Je-Vaughn Watson getting free on a corner.
The player most culpable on that equalizer? Morris, who completely lost Watson. So who would turn out to be the hero? It would be Morris, who blasted a failed clearance into the back of the net in the 88th minute for the winner finding redemption at the most crucial of moments.
It wasn’t a pretty win for the U.S. The side struggled at times in the face of a Jamaica team that was set up well, defended even better and though it rarely went forward, was threatening when it did.
But in the end the U.S. walks away from the 2017 Gold Cup as champion. And multiple players will have made their statements as to why they deserve to be part of the set up for the remainder of World Cup qualifying and beyond.
Morris, who seemed to have earned Bruce Arena’s trust with starts in the semifinal and final, is likely chief among them.
Here are Goal’s player ratings for the Americans' Gold Cup-clinching win over Jamaica.
GK TIM HOWARD, 6: Didn’t have much to do, and can’t be blamed for Jamaica’s goal. Made all the saves he was supposed to.
D JORGE VILLAFANA, 5.5: Generally was nervy with his 1v1 defending but did recover well after getting beat a few times. Pushed forward better of the two fullbacks but was not able to generate much in attack.
D MATT BESLER, 6: Had a few rough moments in this one but usually recovered well. Did not have to do too much, as Jamaica rarely ventured forward.
D OMAR GONZALEZ, 7: Bounced back from a bit of a rough outing against Costa Rica with a generally strong performance. Had a key tackle in the first half and nearly turned an under-hit corner into a goal.
D GRAHAM ZUSI, 4: Struggled quite a bit with Darren Mattocks on the counter and was bailed out on a few occasions by his fellow defenders. He also had issues with the timing of his runs.
M DARLINGTON NAGBE, 6.5: Continually worked hard to drive play forward, though he wasn’t as effective at creating as he was against Costa Rica. The physical play of Jamaica may have had an effect on him.
M MICHAEL BRADLEY 6.5: Wasn’t asked to defend much and got forward a bit, winning the free kick that led to the U.S. opener. Struggled at points with his set-piece deliveries.
M KELLYN ACOSTA, 5: Got higher up the field but struggled to link play with his passing. His biggest impact in this one may have been his attempt at putting in a rebound from an Altidore shot and injuring Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake in the process.
M PAUL ARRIOLA, 5.5: Another hardworking shift from the winger, but struggled to combine at times with Zusi. He had a few chances to potentially score in the contest but overran one ball, leading to a bad touch, and later put an open header straight at Miller.
F JOZY ALTIDORE, 7.5: Hit an excellent shot from distance early in the contest that was stopped by Blake. But he would not be denied on an exquisite free kick for the U.S. opener. Often involved in the buildup, it was a strong performance from the striker.
F JORDAN MORRIS, 6.5: Beaten badly on the goal that gave Jamaica the equalizer but redeemed himself in a big way by delivering the 88th minute winner. Those two moments perfectly encapsulated a game in which Morris had good moments and long stretches when he was invisible.
F CLINT DEMPSEY, 6: Was denied his record-breaking 58th goal by an incredible save by Miller. He was not able to create the same spark he did against Costa Rica, but when the U.S. threatened, he generally was involved in the buildup somehow, including a touch to kill the ball for Morris' winner.
M GYASI ZARDES, 5: Struggled mightily upon coming on with his touch, delivery and decision making. But he salvages something by at least delivering a decent cross into the area that ended up resulting in the Morris winner.
M DAX MCCARTY, NR: Came on to lock down the game in the dying moments after Morris gave the U.S. the lead.