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U.S. Men's National Team

Morris brace saves USMNT in narrow win over Martinique

Photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

It certainly wasn’t the performance the U.S. Men’s National Team wanted, but it was enough to earn three points in a narrow win over a CONCACAF minnow.

A Jordan Morris brace saved the day for the USMNT en route to a 3-2 win over Martinique. The win lifts the USMNT atop Group B through two games following Wednesday’s disappointing draw with Panama.

Omar Gonzalez’s opener came in the 54th minute following an up-and-down opening half performance from the USMNT. Just 10 minutes later, Morris doubled the lead, tapping home an Eric Lichaj cross.

Seconds later, Martinique struck through Kevin Parsemain, whose long-range effort snuck under a diving Brad Guzan to make the score, 2-1. Unfortunately for Guzan, and the USMNT, the goal was followed up with a second from Johan Audel as the goalkeeper was left helpless on a deflection.

That tie lasted less than a minute before Morris fired his second, tapping home a Gyasi Zardes cross for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

The USMNT generated chances early, but failed to truly test Martinique goalkeeper Kevin Olimpia.  Morris was the focal point early, getting a pair of early looks, but the Seattle Sounders forward’s headed effort trickled wide early in what was the USMNT’s best look of the opening half.

Martinique, meanwhile, created a few looks of their own and looked the more likely to score in the first half. Brad Guzan was left beaten on one first half chance only to see the ball clang off the post while the Atlanta United goalkeeper made a stop on Parsemain on the lone shot on target in the first half for the underdogs.

The second half started with a bang as both sides generated several chances. Arriola smashed a shot off the crossbar from close-range moments into the second 45 before firing another chance straight at Olimpia. On the other end, Guzan was forced into another save due to some miscommunication with Matt Hedges.

From there, the game exploded with five goals and, when all was said and done, Morris had two of them as the U.S. sealed a back-and-forth win.

The USMNT now looks ahead to Saturday and the third and final group stage match against Nicaragua, who lost, 2-1, to Panama in Wednesday’s other match.

42 comments
  • Old School

    Well, we got three points, but I struggle to see more than three players deserving of a plane ticket to Russia on this entire 23-man roster.

    Hard to feel great about a fairly fortunate win against the powerhouse Martinique.

    Like

    • The Imperative Voice

      You’d hope that a bunch of players would emerge to help the team but this is turning into a camp cupcake and seeing who is even worthy of the shirt. I don’t expect to see some of them back.

      This is going to be reformatted for the playoff rounds with better players and one interesting thing will be who gets shipped out.

      Like

    • Gary Page

      This is the kind of game where, even with a B or C team, the US should have won 4-0 or 3-0. US defense has been very suspect. Very disjointed and their failure to mark well on corner kicks is particularly unsettling.

      Like

      • Twomilerule

        Gary, I agree! Giving up goals and shots right up the middle is inexcusable. US boys were playing against men last night. Too often Martinique players could shake a defender. Roldan, was the only ball winner in the first half.

        Like

    • Twomilerule

      Who are your three that stay? I’m intrigued because this whole team is so suspect. Going into the tourney you would think Guzman, Acosta, Villafana, maybe Morris, maybe Gonzo,
      On the flip side the value of what Bradley brings is maginified after seeing how incomplete this roster is in the midfield.

      Like

      • Old School

        Who are your three that stay? I’m intrigued because this whole team is so suspect

        I primarily threw that number in to keep with the synergy of “three” points, but I’d venture to say the following players will are a safe bet to be in Russia:

        1) Guzan: no sincere contender for #2 (yet)
        2) Dwyer: ability to add a scoring threat off the bench
        3) Gonzales: Not a fan, but Bruce is

        Wild Cards:
        1) Licaj: If we’re relying on Zusi’s defense we’re in trouble / plus can play LB
        2) Acosta or Bedoya: Neither are impressive, but Arena appears to value their contributions, and there’s not a lot of depth at either position they play.

        Like

  • TheFrenchOne

    Morris will get most of the ink, but I was most impressed with Zardes, who often gets a lot of hate (deservedly so) for his lead foot. I’ve never seen him contribute this way, so many smart runs, touches, passes. His game is usually entirely based on his speed and athleticism. Tonite, he showed a totally different side.

    Agudelo looked good as well, and so did Arriola. Lichaj had a good first half, but was poor defensively in the second (his run and assist on Morris first goal was gold tho).

    Like

  • downintexas

    This is our C team at best. Bruce is using this as a who do we bring in if X and Y are hurt.

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    • Jayboy

      My first reaction was to strongly disagree, but if you consider our A team as spots 1-11, and B as 12-23, then you are right. We are looking at depth for defense, youth in the middle,and maybe a 4th striker to get hot. Acosta and Villafana may be in the starting 11, but everyone else is auditioning for spots 18-23 at the World Cup.
      Side note – but what a bummer Saief is injured. This would’ve been a good tourney to evaluate him.

      Like

      • Ronniet

        He’s shown better than any LB that we’ve put back there as of late and he can create going forward, he’s recorded at least three assist since his call up and thats nothing to bristle at. Defensively he needs more work but i don’t recall him giving up any goals yet. And save the FabJo playing LB, it ain’t happening so it’s better we let JV mature in the position at the international level so come next summer he’s better for it!

        Like

  • bizzy

    Might not be pretty, might not be smooth and technically sound…but it’s a win, with a watered down “B” team. 10 games – 0 loses. In Bruce we trust

    Like

    • johnnyrazor

      The trust has to waiver a little bit, another slow start, poor defense of set pieces, and giving up a two goal lead are all things that have to get fixed and yesterday. Those three areas have been concerns across the squad dating back into the Klinsmann era and even Bradley era. At the end of the day “The Bruce” got what he wanted 3 points, he is all about the bottom line not the style of how you got there, which is at times admirable and at other times excruciating.

      Like

      • Ronniet

        that two goal lead evaporated through a howler by Guzan(why does he still get major minutes), and a theflukest goal you’ll ever see in the sport. The US controlled the game, should have had 2 more goals if it werent for Zardes being Zardes and Bedoya being Bedoya. Switching lineups every match is not the best recipe for continuity and it showed last night, but the performance was better than the Panama game so you have to figure the team is getting better which is what you want in a tournament.

        Like

  • I scored three goals in one game

    I’ haven’t changed diapers that have stunk as bad as the way they played tonight. Disgraceful performance and disrespectful to the crest, would rather have lost. Past 2 games have down right pathetic

    Like

      • Ronniet

        I agree, some of these comments are borderline laughable. The lack of perspective in here is astonishing, its as if a bunch of second and third stringers who’ve never played together at this level is supposed to be world beaters. Did Martinique create some chances, yes, but lets not act like the US didn’t control the entirety of the game and should have scored at least 2 more goals. Martiniques last goal was the flukest goal I’ve ever seen and Guzan had a howler on the first goal. This was a better showing than the Panama game, not debatable, so at least there was some progress which is what you want.

        Lichaj showed really well for me, as did Agudelo and Morris. Zardes had his moments but wasted at least 2 scoring opportunities. Hedges and Gonzalez were poor in the back and Morrow is not ready to contribute at this level. Not a great showing, but not as bad as perceived either.

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      • I scored three goals in one game

        Dramatic and laughable yes but true. I know this is the US b team but these were amateurs they were playing. Morrow isn’t ready for this level what level is that playing against Martinique. Martinique had chances against a MLS defender of the year, a liga mx champion, a quality championship defender and a decent defender in morrow. It was a terrible game in every aspect it’s not like their keeper had the game of his life and made outstanding save after save, other than the save on Morris he gave a lot of opportunities on crosses that should have been at least put on target. After coming off a poor performance against Panama u would think Arena would have them ready but maybe he just doesn’t have that spark to him or that get in your face attitude. Sometimes I think draws and losses would benefit a team more than a win. I wasn’t a fan of hiring Bruce and still think it was a mistake, people want to talk about his record so far but other than drawing in Mexico what improvement has the team shown.

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      • Ronniet

        The US has always struggled against athletic teams and we saw that again last night, nobody puts too much stock in whether their amatuers or not, thats stuff for the papers and media to salivate over. Martinique clearly has been playing together for awhile and that continuity can be challenging for a better team that doesn’t have continuity, which the US doesnt have because of inexperience and changing lineups. Lichaj plays one short ball that resorts in a turnover and now he had a bad game?? His one on one defending might be the best in the pool, and his assist to Morris on the second goal was great. Given more time with the team and i think he’ll lock up the back up RB/LB spot

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    • johnnyrazor

      Martinique has several players with European experience including the keeper Olimpa. He has four Europa League starts while with Bordeaux. Audel has had a long career in Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga with several Europa League and two CL appearances. Arquin played for PSG Reserves and has had several years in Scotland and League One in England. Langil had five Champions League starts last season for Legia Warsaw including one against Dortmund. Parsemain was in the French lower divisions for awhile and if not for a torn ACL may have made it with Sounders. Throw in Delem who has made eleven appearances for Sounders this season and a couple who have experience in the low divisions of France and this team is not exactly St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They beat Canada in 2013 and were a better team than Cuba who advanced on goals scored due to a blowout of Belize. The US should have done better, but it wasn’t as bad as you say it was.

      Like

      • Twomilerule

        Physically they were bigger and stronger in many instances. Acosta is a perfect example, he needs more mass and strength. Acosta bounces when he should be able to move bodies off the ball. Also, Martinique had good speed and many sequences matched the US in one vs one defending.
        I’ll throw this out there. The French system puts out a ton of talented players. A close second to Germany for quality pros in Europe.

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      • Ronniet

        how dare you give us facts…..to let others tell it we were playing against plumbers and electricians last night smdh

        Like

  • Jayboy

    Bedoya drives me nuts. He works so hard to get in the right spots, but his finishing is garbage. He should have crushed his one volley into the net. Pulisic, Donovan, Dempsey, Jozy, maybe even Bradley all finish that chance.

    Also, who slipped Lichaj thru on the first goal. That pass was beautiful.

    Like

  • Joe Dirt

    Garbage. This Martinque team was a bunch of semi pros with a few exceptions. An embarrassing win. Had we not got the 3rd goal we are only on 2 points and 3rd in the group. We should have bossed this team even with a C team. Instead we scrapped by with a win.

    Midfield was azz. No linking thru the middle. Zardes had a good second half and Morris thankfully finished his chances but we lacked creativity and sharpness. We move the ball to slow.

    Unless Bruce calls in some top players after the group stage i dont see us winning this tournament and we are in danger of getting bounced out early too.

    Player whose stock rose the most today…

    Danny Williams.

    Like

    • Cravin' Frottage

      Ha was thinking the same thing about Danny Williams. Guy was probably pounding the wall watching that comedy circus in midfield.

      Like

    • The Imperative Voice

      I have been unimpressed with the CMs and we are having age issues with the first team there. However Williams has often been awful in the shirt as well so I don’t know if it’s winning by not being there. The door is open a crack and no one in this bunch but Acosta is staking a CM claim and his ain’t great.

      Little concerned what the team will look like after Russia, not a lot of young talent besides Pulisic. These guys couldn’t defend Martinique and with the exception of Morris looked out of their depth to score.

      Like

      • Twomilerule

        Danny Williams will be tested every week in the EPL. Hoping he continues to improve and finds a regular midfield spot with his club team and USMNT.

        Like

  • BW in KC

    Yeah this was a pile of poo. We don’t have the deep talent pool we wish we had.

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    This was set up to showcase Acosta and I don’t think he’s grabbed it. Poor dead balls. Not a lot of memorable defense. He has not emerged as heir to Bradley and Co.

    This was set up to showcase Guzan and he’s allowed 3 fairly soft goals. It’s now probably too late to re-consider second keeper but Guzan shows no signs of Keller/Howard airtight exceptionalism. He’s more like a highlight followed by a screwup. In soccer terms that means one more ball in the net at least than you wanted.

    Dwyer and Morris have been ok up top but that’s not a big problem area (Wood, Jozy, Dempsey).

    The defense has been a sore spot and no one from this set has blown the doors off and made their case.

    Like

  • johnnyrazor

    The empty bucket reared its ugly head again, with its usual lackluster result. This team is really without a #10 that can link the central midfield with the forward line. I’m really confused as to why Kljestan, Ngyuen, or Benny were not brought in. Perhaps, CP is set to be released for the final stages, but that seems unlikely.

    I haven’t seen enough of D.Will to determine if he is an upgrade we would still have the same problem if we do not have Pulisic in the middle to connect with. You would just end up with Bradley and Dwill to deep instead of Bradley and Jones.

    Weston McKennie may have been the guy whose cause was helped the most tonight, if he can earn consistent minutes with Schalke hard to not see him move above at least Roldan and perhaps Accosta. Allegedly he is a good ball winner and can play the ball out of the back. Granted that has been against boys so far, so its still a big jump, but the opportunity is there.

    Group Stage Starters
    ———-Altidore—Dwyer—————
    ————–Demps———————–
    Nagbe————————–Rowe—
    —————Bradley——————–
    Villa–Besler—-Omar—–Lichaj—-
    ————-Howard———————

    Could also see Accosta next to Bradley and Dempsey playing underneath Altidore in 4-4-1-1 with Dwyer off the bench.

    Like

    • Gary Page

      A little early to be pinning hopes on McKennie. Hyndman, who did well with Rangers, is more likely to be a contributor at this time than McKennie. Also, what happened to the fans love affair with Nagbe? In retrospect, I agree with another poster that perhaps Kljestan should have been brought in to fill the #10 role.

      Like

      • Johnnyrazor

        Probably right, McKennie would be competing with Acosta and Roldan, if he can earn regular minutes I think he could pass those two. Hyndman could as well if he fits in at Bournemouth not sure if he’s just on loan again, but he would be more a back up to CP.
        I think no one is talking about Nagbe because the discussion this week is on finding someone to push/play alongside Bradley and Nagbe has played more outside for US, not central.

        Like

  • Revs Fan

    I think the biggest problem last night was the crap CM players. Acosta was the place offense went to die. Looks like maybe someday, he may be ok but not now, Arriola = crap too. Its pretty bad when Bedoya comes in and looks better that those two. They were the reason our attack was sputtering.

    Zardes was a mixed bag. Some good, lots bad. All in all, not a starter but maybe a bench player. His Galaxy roots may save him as seems to happen with others too

    Like

    • Ronniet

      I give Arriola credit, he was buzzing around the field tryiong to make things happen, it didn’t always come off and he had some turnovers but he was lively. Bedoya just doesn’t do it for me, he had the one slotted through ball to Lichaj but other than that he wasted possesion and his shooting ability is one of the worst ive seen.

      Like

  • recovered amishman

    two games in and it’s clear the USMNT won’t even sniff the final. I don’t know why we would assume bringing in a few marquee players will make that big of a difference when they haven’t been playing together with most of these guys. It will be interesting to see what Arena does with Lichaj going forward. Based on last night’s play the most you can say is he and Zusi both have issues.

    Like

  • Turkmenbashy

    Reading through the comments, its funny. This time last year, I was laughing at people who were all “play x instead of [Bradley/jones/bedoya/zusi/beasley] give them a chance… they are better.” Ha. Last night shows why JK brought “his guys” and why Arena will bring “his guys”.

    How people can post about being shocked or disappointed by this performance is beyond me. The message is out on the US team. Press the DM and the team falls apart and relies on the counter. Accosta, Roldan, whomever… they aren’t going to change that. Hell, Martinique played that strategy and practically beat us.

    My take-aways from the game are: this was an interesting flip of the script of US v. Mexico from last November when the US came out in a 3-4-3… Until we hit the channels behind their wide MF players we had no idea how to play them… which tells me no one looked at video.

    Morris was reasonable. Zardes fluffed a bunch of chances… and here’s the thing… its not that he is bad, but you can’t be a fluffer and expect to play at the next level… you only get 1 chance a game against good teams… and I just don’t trust Zardes with that chance. That being said his foot control was reasonable (which is a huge improvement).

    Arriola, Acosta, Roldan, had leadfoot syndrome all game. Not sure if they were feeling the pressure, or if that is just them.

    God, Gonzales can’t lead a back line.

    Lichaj deserves a shot at LB to see if he is the flexible player we need as a substitute FB…

    Agudelo really didn’t impress me much. Not sure if that is all on him though.

    and Guzan… man, he is suffering from not getting premiership playing time. He has fallen miles from his 2015 form. Even in 2016, the pattern of not being able to count on him to stand on his head was becoming evident… but it is now plain for all to see. That being said, I think we have some youngsters who we need to be playing in this tournament…

    All this, and in no way was I expecting anything else. I watched 10 minutes of Martinique’s first game and I absolutely thought our boys were not taking them seriously enough. Those kids can play, they have 0 pressure, and they are on showcase for their careers.

    Like

  • Jonathan Gilbert

    What a horrible, atrocious, shocking…..just kidding, this was exactly what I thought would happen in this game. When you play with no veteran leadership and no playmaker, you are asking for trouble, and will always have a hard time seeing out these games.

    My thoughts:

    – Guzan reminds me of how lucky we have been to be able to role out world class keepers for the last few decade plus. He just is not Howard or Keller. He made some great stops or we would have been down 2 goals before we scored, but then he whiffs on an easy save when we needed him to be the rock in the net.
    – Omar did fine, but he always scares me. He is always one tick away from a major mistake, and I am not sure he is a D-line organizer, which means he needs a certain tpe of player next to him. Not sure Hedges was that guy. He had a poor game and should have commited the foul when his guy turned him on the second goal. I like his game in general, so I hope he rebounds but we shall see.
    – Lichaj was the best player all night. He tracked back well, made good runs, and was aggressive with his passing. I would like to see him at LB next game, he might be better than Villafana at this point?
    – Acosta and Roldan were fine, but did not do enough to push the play forward. Acosta also has to learn how to tackle and gain a little strength because he keeps bouncing off of players when trying to stop them.
    – Arriola and Zardes are exactly what we thought, second tier wingers who can look good, but do not put away chances or make the final pass enough. Zardes did better than Paul, but still left a lot on the table.
    – Juan was active all night, and tried to be the table setter, but he is a little too selfish for that role so he missed a few passing opportunities. At least he looked hungry and eager to take people on.
    – Morris was good all night. His hold up and header play was on point, and he put away the chances. I think he will be a good late game option going forward.
    – Love how Dax came in and killed the game off. That is a good role for him.

    In general, if we play an empty bucket, then one of the two forwards needs to be more of a playmaker to make this formation work with these players. The problem is I am not sure that guy is on this roster, so we will see where Bruce goes next. Also, why can this team not learn how to foul? How many times are they going to let someone run wild because they are scared of a yellow card? Learn how and where to foul boys, everyone else in this tourney is going to do it!

    I hope we come out with more passion next game!

    Like

    • Ronniet

      A great summary and one i agree with……i really don’t know what people are expecting from a mostly inexperienced team, that has no continuity and that is clearly working its way through the tourney. They’ll be in the finals, mark my words, winining it however is something else.

      Like

  • Scott e Dio93

    I will continue to blame USSF for being mediocre. mexico two more friendlies than USNT, in the USA, & also mexico played the Confederations Cup, yet people continue make excuse for USSF not programming enough friendlies “real” USNT (the men). I don’t blame Arena for lack proper preparations for entire year.

    Like

    • johnnyrazor

      You have absolutely no understanding of how international soccer works. The US could have scheduled 50 friendlies in June, and they would have been played by none of the players on the roster because none of their clubs would have allowed it. Why was Mexico able to schedule one more friendly before WCQ and the GC, because their league is on break and all of their players are available. US Soccer had to work out a deal with MLS just to get the players a week early, they didn’t have to let them go until July 7. Take Gyasi Zardes if he plays the entire tourney he will have missed 4 MLS matches, 2 Open Cups, and an exhibition against ManU, another friendly and players would have missed one more MLS match at least. If you want to blame someone blame MLS and its March to November schedule, or the American fan for not wanting to watch a soccer match outside in Minneapolis in January.

      Like

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