Enduring muggy conditions and an 88-minute weather delay in the middle of the first half, the U.S. Men’s National Team battled past Jamaica 3-1 before 28,473 rain-soaked fans at Nissan Stadium. Christian Pulisic earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors with a pair of second half goals, piggybacking on Weston McKennie’s opener to advance the USA to a tournament-record 11th Concacaf Gold Cup Final.
The United States will square off against archrival Mexico, which needed overtime to beat Haiti 1-0 in Tuesday’s initial semifinal, for the regional title. Kickoff from Soldier Field in Chicago for the first USA-Mexico Gold Cup final since 2011 is set for 9 p.m. ET. The sold-out match will be broadcast on FS1, Univision, UDN and Futbol de Primera Radio Network.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter made a quartet of changes to the starting XI that took down Curacao 1-0 in the quarterfinal, bringing in Jozy Altidore up top and Jordan Morris to the midfield plus Reggie Cannon and Matt Miazga in the back line. Berhalter also continued to rotate the captain’s armband, this time handing it to Tim Ream – one of nine different players to captain the U.S. in 2019 – for the second time this year.
The USA swarmed Jamaica at the opening whistle with Altidore nearly connecting on multiple opportunities within the first five minutes. Pulisic created the opening chance after evading three defenders and pinging a cross that landed at the right post before squeaking past Altidore and Morris.
Moments later, Altidore headed the ball into space for Morris who got into the right side of the box and played it across the six, but Altidore was unable to get a touch. The ball rolled to Arriola who got his shot past goalkeeper Andre Blake only to see it cleared at the last moment by the recovering Reggae Boyz netminder.
The early U.S. pressure paid off in the ninth minute when Cannon volled a Michael Bradley longball to Altidore in the box. His touch laid it off for the late run of McKennie who pounded it home for his second goal in as many games and the 1-0 lead.
On 12 minutes, Pulisic won and took a free kick that caromed off the left post. Another free kick just before the weather delay was fumbled by Blake when he collided with a teammate and the loose ball rolled to Aaron Long, but his shot hit a grateful Blake in the 15th minute. Less than a minute later, the weather delay began.
At the resumption of play, Jamaica started with a flurry, forcing U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen into a strong diving save in the 23rd minute. After that, the U.S. put its foot on the ball to regain control of the game with good spells of possession carrying the 1-0 advantage into halftime.
Just seven minutes into the second frame, Pulisic doubled the USA’s lead, capitalizing on a Blake rebound for his 12th international goal.
At that point Berhalter turned to his bench, bringing in Gyasi Zardes for Altidore in the 55th minute and later Cristian Roldan for Morris in the 70th. Between those subs, Jamaica felt the urgency of the moment and began to raise its play.
Waves of attack were cleared by the U.S. defense and Steffen, who was called into action to make three saves among numerous other interventions.
The pressure finally told in the 69th minute when substitute Shamar Nicholson, who notched the winning goal for Jamaica against the U.S. in a pre-tournament friendly, headed home Leon Bailey’s cross to draw the Reggae Boyz within a goal.
The U.S. stuck to its task and left no doubt with three minutes remaining in regulation as Pulisic once again took advantage of a Blake rebound to chop home what was his third goal of tournament to cement the final 3-1 score line and lift the USA into its 11th Gold Cup Final.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – Weston McKennie (Jozy Altidore), 9th minute: Michael Bradley initiated the attacking sequence with a perfectly weighted long ball toward the right side of the box for Reggie Cannon to run on to. Cannon volleyed the ball across the middle of the box for Altidore whose touch carried it into the path of the crashing McKennie. At full steam toward the goal, McKennie took one touch to settle the ball before blasting it past Andre Blake into the left side of the net for his third international goal. USA 1, JAM 0 [WATCH]
USA – Christian Pulisic, 52nd minute: Weston McKennie spotted the run of Jordan Morris and played a through-ball from central midfield into the top of the box where Morris took a touch, put on a burst of speed to get past his defender and fired a sharp-angle shot that Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake could only parry into the path of a crashing Pulisic, who controlled his body to send a sliding volley into the open net. USA 2, JAM 0 [WATCH]
JAM – Shamar Nicholson (Leon Bailey), 69th minute: Jamaica won the ball at midfield and counter attacked down the right side through Bailey, who was able to clip a cross between two defenders into the center of the box. Waiting was Nicholson, who snapped a header down to the left side of the goal between Steffen and the post. USA 2, JAM 1 [WATCH]
USA – Christian Pulisic, 87th minute: Pulisic carried the ball into the Jamaica penalty area but his centering pass rolled outside the top left of the box. Paul Arriola chased it down and sent a blistering shot toward the right post that forced Blake into a diving parry. However, he once again pushed the ball right to Pulisic who golfed his shot into the ground, bouncing it into the far side netting for his 13th career goal. USA 3, JAM 1 [WATCH] FINAL
The USMNT is 8-2-1 in 2019, having kept a clean sheet in seven of the eight wins.
The USMNT is 26-7-5 all-time in the Gold Cup knockout rounds and 10-3-1 in semifinal matches.
The USA is 16-3-8 all-time against Jamaica and 5-1-0 in Gold Cup play.
The win sends the U.S. to its 11th Gold Cup finals appearance, the most of any Concacaf nation.
The USA extended its record streak by scoring in its 29th consecutive Gold Cup match. The U.S. has not been shut out in the competition since the 2009 Gold Cup final.
The victory marked the USA’s 10th straight in Concacaf Gold Cup play (July 12, 2017-July 3, 2019), extending a new team record for consecutive wins at the confederation championship.
The USMNT has won five consecutive games, their longest winning streak since winning five straight in the 2017 Gold Cup.
Shamar Nicholson’s 69th minute goal was the first conceded by the USMNT at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup and ended the team’s shutout streak at 483 minutes.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes to the starting XI, inserting defenders Reggie Cannon and Matt Miazga along with forwards Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris.
Seven players in the starting XI have contributed either a goal or assist in the tournament so far: Pulisic (3g, 3a), Arriola (2g, 1a), Long (2g), McKennie (2g, 1a), Morris (2a), Altidore (1g, 1a), Bradley (1a).
Just four players in tonight’s starting lineup appeared in 1-0 defeat to Jamaica on June 5 in Washington, D.C.: Arriola, Miazga, Ream and Steffen.
Altidore and Morris scored in the last Gold Cup meeting with the Reggae Boyz, a 2-1 victory in the 2017 final on July 26, 2017 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The U.S. starting XI had an average age of 25 years, 171 days and 40 caps.
Christian Pulisic scored goals in the 52nd and 87th minutes to take his career tally to 13. The 20-year-old also moved into a tie with Gyasi Zardes for the joint team scoring lead at the 2019 Gold Cup with three goals.
Christian Pulisic has registered a Gold Cup-leading three assists (tied with Canada’s Alphonso Davies) in the 2019 tournament. With his next assist, he will become the 12th player in USMNT history with 10+ goals and 10+ assists for his country, joining: Landon Donovan (57g, 58a), Clint Dempsey (57g, 21a), Jozy Altidore (42g, 13a), Eric Wynalda (34g, 16a), Brian McBride (30g, 10a), Michael Bradley (17g, 23a), Joe-Max Moore (24g, 14a), Cobi Jones (15g, 22a), DaMarcus Beasley (17g, 13a), Earnie Stewart (17g, 10a) and Eddie Lewis (10g, 16a).
Michael Bradley made his 24th Gold Cup appearance, tying Clint Dempsey for second on the USMNT’s all-time tournament caps list.
Making his second start of the tournament, Altidore returned to the same stadium where he became the youngest USMNT player to record a hat trick, with the then 19-year-old recording all three goals in a 3-0 World Cup Qualifying win against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1, 2009.
Jozy Altidore’s assist on McKennie’s goal was the 14th of his international career, moving him into a tie with Joe-Max Moore and Tab Ramos for eighth on the USMNT’s all-time assist list. It’s his first international assist since June 2017.
Tim Ream captained the USMNT for the second time in his international career.
Arriola and Zardes made their team-leading 10th appearances of 2019.