Moments after the final whistle at Levi’s Stadium where Jordan Morris had scored in the 88th minute to lift the United States to the Gold Cup title, the young striker sounded more relieved than elated. “I was nervous the whole second half,” an emotional Morris said. “I just wanted to make up for their goal.”
That goal in the 50th minute leveled the game at 1-1, when Jamaica midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson outran Morris to get on the end of Darren Mattocks’ 50th minute corner kick, equalizing the score line and setting up a tense second frame.
“After that corner went in it was tough,” Morris told ussoccer.com post-game. “You never want to be the guy to let the team down, but I was just trying to keep my head up, keep going. My teammates were great – they kept me positive and I just tried to make an impact.”
So it was only fitting that after a second half of close calls, including Clint Dempsey’s near record-breaking hit off the post in the 75th minute, that Morris was the man who buried the game-winner, doing so in dramatic fashion just two minutes and change from full-time.
The goal was the 22-year-old’s third of the tournament and made him the second youngest U.S. goal scorer in a Gold Cup Final behind Benny Feilhaber, who memorably hit home a game-winning volley in the 2007 Final against Mexico.
“I just wanted to help the team in any way that I could, just keep working hard, keep pushing and luckily the ball fell at my feet and I was able to finish. I feel grateful for that.”
U.S. team captain Michael Bradley heaped praise on Morris for the way he rebounded from the equalizer and how he has grown into his role since earning his first cap in November 2014.
“Jordan has a mentality that’s different. He’s a kid who from when he first came into the National Team, you could see there was something real there,” Bradley said. “There was substance, there was real character and willingness to continue to push himself along, improve and do anything to help the team. He’s grown in big ways. He’s a really important part of what we’re doing. To see him get the winner and score a goal like that, I couldn’t be happier for him.”
No stranger to big moments himself, Morris’ Seattle Sounders FC teammate Clint Dempsey added, “He’s someone that has scored big goals for us with Seattle and he also scores big goals here with the U.S. team. At this tournament he chipped in with three goals, two game winners, and he was huge for us. I’m proud of him.”
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The only U.S. player to feature in all six tournament matches, Morris came into the competition looking to etch his name further into U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena’s plans, and after finishing as the tournament’s joint-leading goal scorer he seemed to achieve that.
“Every time you come in you try to show as best you can and hopefully I did that,” Morris said. “It was just great. Every time you come into camp, you play with such great players, and to be in a full month, to really get to know these guys and get closer has been a lot of fun.
“It’s amazing. As a kid growing up, it’s something you dream about. In your career you don’t get a lot of opportunities to play for trophies, so you have to make the most of it. To be a part of this team is such an honor. It’s been a special moment.”