Earthquakes

Quakes can't equalize, fall 2-1 to Timbers

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Quakes can't equalize, fall 2-1 to Timbers

BOX SCOREThe never-say-die late match magic that had carried the San Jose Earthquakes to the top of the MLS standings in the first half of the season failed to materialize in a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field Tuesday night.

Goals from Danny Mwanga and Jack Jewsbury staked the Timbers to a 2-0 lead early in the second half, but a late goal from Alan Gordon was all the Earthquakes could muster and their three game MLS winning streak came to an end.

The Timbers nearly opened the scoring in the 15th minute, when a long pass from Franck Songoo toward the top of the area was tipped by Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez right to a wide open Eric Alexander on the left wing. The midfielder turned the ball back toward goal, and with a phalanx of defenders converging on him, unleashed a low shot that caromed off the left post.

Portland would get on the scoresheet in the 29th minute following a textbook counterattack following an unsuccessful Earthquakes corner kick. After disposing Rafael Baca of the ball deep in the right corner, Songoo centered the ball to Alexander and sprinted up the sideline. Alexander returned the ball to Songoo with plenty of open space ahead of him and he carried the ball all the way into the Earthquakes area. A squared pass across the six-yard box was met by Mwanga and redirected past goalkeeper David Bingham to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.

The Timbers nearly scored another goal from the same combination in the 55th minute. With space to bring the ball into the area, Songoo elected to cross the ball back across the six-yard box to Mwanga, and the Portland forward slammed a shot off the crossbar. The effort was whistled dead for offside, but the Timbers continued to put the Earthquakes collectively on their back foot.

Portland collected their second goal of the night on a free kick in the 59th minute. The deep ball into the area looked destined for the grasp of keeper Bingham, but a challenge from Futty Danso dislodged the ball and it trickled back toward the goal line. As Bingham struggled to catch up with the loose ball, Jewsbury raced in and buried a shot into the back of the net.

The introduction of Marvin Chavez for Rafael Baca in the 59th minute and Steven Lenhart for Khari Stephenson in the 62nd minute signaled a shift to a more offensive-minded formation, and the substitutions paid dividends in short order.

The Earthquakes pulled one back in the 74th minute when a crossing attempt from Justin Morrow was deflected back out of the area directly to Chavez. He stepped into the ball and fired a shot on target that Gordon redirected past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins for the Earthquakes first goal of the evening.

The last Earthquakes substitution came in the 84th minute, when creative midfielder Tressor Moreno replaced defender Jason Hernandez. The visitors pushed forward with numbers in the concluding minutes of the match, but they were unable to find an equalizer.

The Earthquakes will look to return to their winning ways this Saturday when they travel to Texas to face FC Dallas.

Gold Cup roundup: Five takeaways from USMNT's championship win

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USATSI

Gold Cup roundup: Five takeaways from USMNT's championship win

For the sixth time in Gold Cup tournament history, the United States hoisted the championship trophy – this time in front of 63,000 fans Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.
 
Jozy Altidore opened the scoring in the 45th minute with a beautiful free kick. However, Jamaica equalized only five minutes into the second half.
 
Stanford product Jordan Morris later scored the game-winner in the 88th minute to secure a U.S. title. 
 
Here are five things you should know about the U.S.’ latest tournament championship.
 
-- Aside from a little extra gold in the trophy case, the biggest thing the United States takes from winning the cup is confidence. They’ll have about a month worth of rest before the Hexagon resumes – and right out of the gate, it’s a date with Costa Rica, who the U.S. beat on their road to the tournament title.
 
Currently, Costa Rica sits three points clear of the U.S. in the CONCACAF’s 2018 World Cup qualifying table. A victory against Los Ticos on Sept. 1 would be the biggest win of this latest Bruce Arena era.
 
-- Speaking of Bruce Arena, it can’t be understated just how big of tournament win this is for the U.S. Soccer manager. Hired to jumpstart a team that to many pundits looked flat and lacked fire under Jurgen Klismann, Arena has now won a trophy, helped the USMNT get back into Hex contention and has not lost a match. In 15 matches, Arena has a 9-0-6 record. He now has 84 career wins as the USMNT front man.
 
-- We’re still on record breaker watch since Clint Dempsey did not start or play in Wednesday’s final. The Seattle Sounders, who recently took down the San Jose Earthquakes to move ahead of them in the standings and are Dempsey’s club of employment, play their next MLS fixture on Saturday. The risk of shot rest could explain Bruce Arena’s apprehension to not start Dempsey. He came in during the 57th minute. Captain America came really close to scoring twice. 
 
So, the record, shared by Dempsey and Landon Donovan at 57 international goals, will sit there for at least another match.
 
-- Quick look at the numbers and there isn’t a clear contender for the U.S. Player of the Gold Cup. So after stumbles against Panama and Martinique to start the tournament, what was most impressive is how the U.S. defense came together to close out the Gold Cup. In five games, they surrendered just one goal. So, hats off to Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Jorge Villafaña who were instrumental during that stretch – but let us not forget Matt Hedges, Eric Lichaj and Justin Morrow who really got that impressive defensive stretch rolling.
 
-- Morris had been struggling to score all season but he may have now forced Arena’s hand with his Gold Cup performance. While he did get beat on defense on Jamaica’s goal, the search for a scoring defender by the USMNT as qualifiers creeps up is ongoing. Morris, who burst onto the MLS scene last season, is making a strong case for himself.

Former Stanford star scores winning goal for USA in Gold Cup victory

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USATSI

Former Stanford star scores winning goal for USA in Gold Cup victory

SANTA CLARA -- As the victorious American players bounced so hard the podium shook, medals round their necks, a beaming Bruce Arena in the back raised his arms to the air right along with them as gold confetti began to fall.

The U.S. resurgence is off to an impressive start since Arena returned late last year. Another CONCACAF Gold Cup crown, and now on to more important business: qualifying for next year's World Cup.

Former Stanford star Jordan Morris scored a tiebreaking goal in the 88th minute, and the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 on Wednesday night for its sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013.

Jozy Altidore's goal on a 28-yard free kick in the 45th minute beat backup goalkeeper Dwayne Miller after Jamaica captain Andre Blake left early with a hand injury.

Je-Vaughn Watson tied the score when he got away from Morris for a 4-yard volley off Kemar Lawrence's 50th-minute corner kick.

Morris, who left nearby Stanford in his junior year, has won the 2015 NCAA title, the 2016 MLS championship with Seattle and now the 2017 Gold Cup. He got the breakthrough goal with a 14-yard right-footed shot after Gyasi Zardes crossed.

"I was nervous. It was my guy that scored on the goal, so I was trying to make up for it any way that I could," Morris said. "Obviously. I take responsibility for that. But luckily I could put one in the back of the net."

Jermaine Taylor tried to clear with a header and the ball was knocked by Clint Dempsey with a leg back to Morris. It was the fifth international goal for the 22-year-old Morris, who tied 16-year-old Canadian Alphonso Davies for the tournament lead with three goals.

"That was like a dagger in the heart," Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said.

The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 14 games (9-0-5) under Arena, who became the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles.

"Bruce brought in a new energy," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "He just gave us a tremendous lift."

U.S. captain Michael Bradley earned the Golden Ball at the tournament's top player.

The Americans had a chance in the 19th minute when Altidore's swerving 30-yard shot was parried by Blake, who dived left and then beat Kellyn Acosta to the rebound at the 6-yard box. Acosta collided with Blake and appeared to kick the keeper's right hand before Jamaica's Damion Lowe cleared. Blake's hand was wrapped but he couldn't continue and was replaced by Miller four minutes later. As Blake left the field, he acknowledged the cheering fans with a wave of his left hand, then later emerged for the medal ceremony with his hand bandaged after receiving seven stitches. Nothing was broken.

"It was a very unfortunate situation. What to say? Very sad situation," Whitmore said.

Altidore put the U.S. ahead with a curling shot past Miller's outstretched right hand into the upper corner of the net just beneath the crossbar, his 39th goal in 108 appearances.

Lawrence, who scored in a 1-0 semifinal win Sunday against Mexico, took another corner kick in the 75th minute moments after Alvas Powell's shot from close range deflected off Graham Zusi - a sequence that had Howard yelling at the defense.

Using a lineup with about half its regular starters - the rest are in preseason with European clubs - the U.S. reached its record 10th final. The Reggae Boyz were a surprising final opponent after they stunned Mexico in a semifinal Sunday to reach the title match for a second straight time.

With 18 of 22 starters from Major League Soccer, this was a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal won 2-1 by Jamaica at Atlanta. For the first time since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann in November, Arena kept his lineup unchanged. He inserted the 34-year-old Dempsey in the 55th minute.

Chunks of turf came loose yet again at Levi's Stadium, the $1.2 billion, 3-year-old home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers. The field has been an ongoing issue.

The Americans hope for momentum built during this run as they prepare to resume World Cup qualifying. The U.S faces Costa Rica in a rematch of the Gold Cup semifinal on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and play four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.

"We're not worried one bit about World Cup qualifying today. I can promise you that," Bradley said. "This was about a group of guys winning a trophy and that's been the only goal."

Arena already was looking ahead.

"We're a long way from qualifying for a World Cup, and that's the objective, for sure," he said.