Wednesday, March 29, 2017

United States 1 Jamaica 0: Morris gives Arena first win back

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Feb 2017

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The Bruce Arena era is officially up and running after the Unites States overcame Jamaica 1-0 in an international friendly.

Back for his second spell in charge of USA following Jurgen Klinsmann’s sacking in November, Arena’s return as head coach resulted in a first-up goalless draw against a weakened Serbia side last week.

But USA – preparing for a pair of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama in March – emerged triumphant thanks to Jordan Morris and his second-half strike in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Friday.

Morris produced a magical moment of interplay with Benny Feilhaber as the 22-year-old Seattle Sounders forward netted his second international goal for USA in the 59th minute.

Arena made nine changes to the team that drew against Serbia, with Graham Zusi and Steve Birnbaum the only players retaining their places.

Luis Robles, Jorge Villafana, Walker Zimmerman, Feilhaber, Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius, Sebastian Lletget, Juan Agudelo and Morris came in for Nick Rimando, Chad Marshall, Gregory Garza, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya, Darlington Nagbe and Jozy Altidore.

Jamaica were inexperienced for the friendly due to the fixture falling outside of FIFA’s official window. Only Je-Vaughn Watson, Kemar Lawrence, Alvas Powell and Andre Blake had double-digit caps, with the likes of Jermaine Taylor, Demar Phillips, Adrian Mariappa and Leicester City captain Wes Morgan all absent for Theodore Whitmore’s men.

The first half was fairly dour, with both teams struggling to create opportunities.

While USA dominated possession, they played in front of Jamaica’s defence and were unable to get in behind and punish the visitors.

Morris, though, did manage to get in behind but he was denied by goalkeeper Blake, who rushed off his line to push the ball away for a corner in the 38th minute.

The resulting set-piece saw Lletget almost curl the ball into the far corner of the net following a well-worked move straight from the training ground.

It had come five minutes after Jamaica threatened to take the lead. Exposed for pace, USA breathed a sigh of relief when Romario Williams’ rebound went high and wide inside the six-yard box.

USA looked far more dangerous in the second half and it was not long before the hosts broke the deadlock via Morris just shy of the hour-mark.

Morris and Feilhaber combined magnificently, playing neat one-twos to leave Jamaica’s defence at sixes and sevens as the former tucked the ball underneath Blake.

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