SANTA CLARA, United States – Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz suffered heartbreak for the second straight CONCACAF Gold Cup when a late goal sent them to a painful 2-1 defeat to the United States in the confederation final last night.
With the game an open affair heading into the dying stages, Jordan Morris fired past substitute goalkeeper Dwayne Miller with just two minutes remaining in normal time, to send the largely partisan crowd at Levi’s Stadium into celebration.
The title for the Americans was their sixth in the competition following successes in 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013 while the defeat kept the Caribbean powerhouses, who lost the 2015 final to Mexico, without a title in the Confederation’s marquee tournament.
Jozy Altidore had earlier given the hosts a 45th minute lead heading into the break before Je-Vaughn Watson restored parity five minutes on the other side of the break.
Both sides traded chances for the next half-hour until Morris’s lethal strike late on.
“That was like a dagger in the heart,” said Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore.
“That’s football. We came up short tonight. But again, this is football. If you look in the semifinal against Mexico, the same thing happened in that game (when Jamaica scored an 88th-minute winner).”
Jamaica had suffered a massive blow in the 19th minute when captain and goalkeeper Andre Blake was forced out with a hand injury.
The Philadelphia Union custodian, easily his country’s best player of the tournament, pulled off a trademark stunning save in the 19th minute from a long-range shot from Altidore and then also saved from the feet of Kellyn Acosta on the rebound.
However, Blake sustained a painful hand injury courtesy Costa’s boot, forcing the 26-year-old out of the contest.
His replacement Miller was powerless to keep out Altidore’s shot as time ticked away at the end of the first half. Following Romario Williams’s foul on Michael Bradley, Altidore stepped up to send a superb free kick from about 10 yards outside the box over the wall and into the upper right-hand corner.
Jamaica found a response early in the second half to bring the game back to a deadlock. Kemar Lawrence swung in a corner in at the far post and Watson peeled away from his marker Morris to tuck his volley past Tim Howard.
Miller then kept the game square with a couple of great saves, swatting away Morris’ shot from the top of the box in the 73rd minute before also denying Clint Dempsey’s header three minutes later.
However, Morris broke the deadlock and Jamaica’s hearts when substitute Gyasi Zardes raced down the right and sent a cross into the box which Jermaine Taylor deflected in an attempted clearance.
The ball landed nicely for Morris who curled his shot past Miller from 16 yards out to grab the winner.