A rejiggered US national team made mighty heavy work of the task, but eventually slipped past plucky underdogs Martinique to earn a 3-2 victory in their Gold Cup Group B encounter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday night.
The Chicago Fire's Dax McCarty began the game on the U.S. bench as head coach Bruce Arena trotted out eight new starters compared to the lineup that struggled to a 1-1 draw with Panama in Nashville over the weekend, and perhaps as a result, were woefully lacking in rhythm and consistency in a scoreless first half.
Omar Gonzalez eased some nerves with a poked mop-up goal shortly after the break, and the Seattle Sounders' Jordan Morris struck for two goals. But a matching double from former Sounder Kevin Parsemain kept the islanders in it and forced the favorites to sweat until the final whistle.
McCarty entered the game in the 86th minute for New England's Juan Agudelo, helping the USMNT close the door on three points in Group B.
- 54' – USA – Omar Gonzalez
- 64' – USA – Jordan Morris
- 66' – MTQ – Kevin Parsemain
- 76' – USA – Jordan Morris
- 76' – MTQ – Kevin Parsemain
- CONCACAF Man of the Match: Jordan Morris
- NOT A CLASSIC: Yes, Bruce Arena has made clear that he's using this tournament to give fringe players a chance to impress. And no, many of them have not seized that opportunity. But the collective lack of cohesion, fluidity and urgency for long stretches made this a frustrating spectacle; probing questions will surely be asked of the head coach after this one.
- NO BUENO, EL GUZANO: The USMNT had Brad Guzan to thank for safeguarding Saturday's draw, but the goalkeeper will be holding his hand up after letting in (depending on your perspective) one or even two soft goals to let Martinique hang around. Safe to say that he, too, has something extra to prove going forward.
- THE SEASONED J-MO: Many fans still tend to think of him as a youngster. But in this game Morris looked like a savvy veteran when someone in stripes badly needed to. He showed glimpses of the patience and game IQ that he often lacked early in his pro career, and was clinical with the clear chances presented to him.
- USA: Saturday, July 15 – vs. Nicaragua (7 pm ET | Univision, UDN, FXX in US, TSN2 in Canada)
- MTQ: Saturday, July 15 – vs. Panama (4:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN in US, TSN2 in Canada)