After a scrappy, hard-fought 88 minutes of the USMNT trying and failing to break down a defensively stout Jamaica team, Jordan Morris pounced on a loose ball in the box originating from a Gyasi Zardes cross and stuffed the ball in the top corner, breaking a 1-1 tie and giving the U.S. Men’s National Team their sixth Gold Cup trophy, defeating Jamaica 2-1.

Jamaica, who had beaten Mexico in the semifinal on a last-second goal of their own, had bunkered, countered, and free kicked their way to a second straight Gold Cup Final. But after holding off the host Americans for an impressively long time, even equalizing at one point, it was a flubbed clearance and unlucky deflection that was finally their undoing.

The U.S. entered the match in the same 4-4-2 they used in their previous match, a semifinal win over Costa Rica. They attempted to use buzzing wingers Darlington Nagbe and Paul Arriola as well as the channel-running of Morris and hold-up play of Jozy Altidore to break down a Jamaica team that shut out Mexico twice by sitting deep in a 5-3-2 formation, cutting off all gaps and half-spaces centrally.

Without a true playmaker sitting in the condensed space, the U.S. struggled to create solid opportunities. But they did come very close to scoring in the 22nd-minute, when Altidore ripped a long-range effort that was heroically reached by star Jamaican keeper Andre Blake, who probably should have won the tournament’s Golden Ball. The rebound was eventually cleared by Kemar Lawrence, but Blake stayed down, having been accidentally kicked by a charging Kellyn Acosta on the rebound.

The Philadelphia Union starter, and Jamaica’s biggest star, suffered a gruesome hand injury and was wincing in pain on the ground. His hand was immediately wrapped and he was forced to come off the field, a rough, rough blow for a player who had been playing the tournament of his life, and for a team that relied on his amazing saves throughout the Gold Cup.

Swedish second-team player Dwayne Miller was his replacement, and he could only get fingertips on a beautiful Jozy Altidore free kick just before halftime that gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead. An argument could have been made that Blake would have saved it, but the point remained that it was a wonderful golazo from the much-maligned Altidore, who had been great in this tournament.

It looked from there that the U.S. would cruise, considering how little Jamaica had threatened Tim Howard’s goal. But the game got a new start when New England Revolution’s Je-Vaughn Watson caught Jordan Morris sleeping on a corner-kick and equalized, stunning the Santa Clara crowd.

Clint Dempsey, with a chance to break Landon Donovan’s all-time USMNT goalscoring record, was subbed on shortly after Jamaica’s goal in an attempt to gain more passing nuance in the final third. He hit the post on a save from Miller, and the U.S. continued to create opportunities. Nothing got through and the score remained 1-1. Extra-time and eventually penalty kicks loomed.

Finally, though, the substitute Zardes knocked yet another cross into the box and after a couple of whacky deflections, the ball wound up to Morris and he nestled the ball into the corner of the goal, avenging Morris’s earlier mistake and giving the U.S. their first trophy to celebrate since they won this tournament back in 2013.

Blake would win the Golden Glove as the tournament’s best goalkeeper, Canada’s 16-year old prodigy Alphonso Davies won the Golden Boot with the most goals, and U.S. defensive midfielder and captain Michael Bradley was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s overall best player.

The USMNT’s focus now turn to officially qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. They have four matches in September and October in an attempt to do that.

For now, they celebrate.

About Harrison Hamm

Sports stuff for The Comeback. Often will write about MLS. Follow me on twitter @harrisonhamm21.