2017 Gold Cup

Union goalie Andre Blake injures hand in Jamaica's loss to U.S. in Gold Cup final

Union goalie Andre Blake injures hand in Jamaica's loss to U.S. in Gold Cup final

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- 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. Jermaine Taylor tried to clear with a header and the ball was knocked by Clint Dempsey with a leg back to Morris.

"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."

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.

Arena took a moment after the final whistle to congratulate Morris for the pretty shot but also for how he answered from a mistake.

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."

The Americans had a chance to go ahead 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 that will be in for 10 days. Nothing was broken.

"It was a pretty bad cut, I knew I wasn't able to continue," Blake said. "It happens sometimes."

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 his defense.

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

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.

Serious? You bet. But he also had a little fun with his players as the bubbly flowed.

"I told the players if anyone sprays champagne on me they will not be considered for the next World Cup qualifier and also the World Cup if we reach the World Cup," Arena said. "So I'm dry right now. It's surprising, isn't it?"

6 years after last appearance, Eric Lichaj nets crucial goal to lift U.S. in Gold Cup win

6 years after last appearance, Eric Lichaj nets crucial goal to lift U.S. in Gold Cup win

Six years after his last appearance with the U.S. men’s national team, Eric Lichaj finally opened up his international scoring account in a 2-0 win over El Salvador in Wednesday night’s Gold Cup quarterfinals match (see story).

Lichaj earned his first international appearance under previous USMNT coach Bob Bradley, only to fall out of favor with Jurgen Klinsmann during his tenure. Now with Bruce Arena at the helm, Lichaj has been given an opportunity to prove himself throughout the Gold Cup.

Despite getting off to a rocky start Wednesday night, the defender found himself streaking up the field into the opposing third, getting his foot on the receiving end of a Clint Dempsey assist.  

“I wasn’t having the best of times in the first half. I think I ended up going forward and having a good run. It was a good play down the left and Clint ended up turning and slotting me in and it was just a good goal, and I needed it because my performance in the first half is something I don’t want to repeat ever again,” Lichaj said. 

A full body slide celebration soon followed, along with congratulations and hugs from teammates.

“I’m delighted for him,” roommate and Union midfielder Chris Pontius said. “I told him he’d get one this tournament, he ventured forward a couple times in the first half. I don’t know how he ended up the left side as a right back, but it was a great finish though.”

A finish his family was able to enjoy with him, as Lichaj had 10 family members in the stands on Wednesday night. His wife and two daughters have traveled across the country the last couple weeks, attending every game this tournament. 

The Lichajs will once again be packing their bags as they follow their favorite defender and the USMNT to Dallas this weekend. Up next for the Red, White, and Blue is a semifinal match against Costa Rica on July 22. It’s a showdown that will certainly bring up some past emotions, for players and coaches alike. 

"Certainly they're a good team, we know that," Arena said of Costa Rica. "They beat the U.S. by four goals in November, right? Hopefully, we can remember that."

American Outlaws ready to bring their 'Philly touch' to the Linc

American Outlaws ready to bring their 'Philly touch' to the Linc

Wednesday night, there will be no "Fly Eagles Fly" at Lincoln Financial Field. Nor will there be any white, black or green — except maybe for a smattering of seats in the upper deck.

Instead, the home of the Eagles will be taken over by the red, white and blue as the United States Men's National Team returns to Philadelphia for its Gold Cup quarterfinal against El Salvador. It's the second year in a row that the Linc has hosted the Stars and Stripes, and it would've been the third had the United States not been upset by Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup semis.

And the return of the USMNT means that the American Outlaws — in particular, the organization's Philadelphia chapter — will be out in full force as they take over sections 129 and 130. The Outlaws, an unofficial fan group with 191 official chapters and more than 30,000 members, have already made their presence felt in Nashville, Tampa and Cleveland with large crowds and plenty of noise.

But local chapter president Julian Brown hinted that, in true Philly fashion, it might even get a little rowdier at the Linc than it's been thus far in the tournament's group stage.

"I think there's always a little rowdiness when you come to Philly," he said. "Every AO section, though, tends to be the same. We chant, we sing — you might hear a few more F-bombs ... Philly fans are definitely a bit more rowdy.

"But as far as whether it will really become a factor, it's an AO section. We'll stand, we'll sing, we'll cheer and it'll probably be like any game, just with a little Philly touch."

The Philadelphia chapter, which has about 700 members and is the second-largest in the nation according to Brown, became active during the 2013 Gold Cup when the USA marched all the way to the final before losing to Mexico. Although the City of Brotherly Love was not a host site that year, the Outlaws set up their home base at Fado, a pub on the 1500 block of Locust Street.

Now, the group has shifted its home bar to Field House on Filbert Street — where it hosted a night-before party Tuesday evening as per tradition with most Outlaws chapters across the country. 

And after missing out on what could have been a major opportunity to host a U.S.-Mexico final when Philadelphia was the site of the 2015 Gold Cup final, Philly's American Outlaws were thrilled to know that they would be basically getting a guaranteed chance to have the USMNT in town this time around when CONCACAF released the schedule for this edition of the biennial event.

"We were a little worried [Monday morning] that the tickets weren't sold and then both AO National and our chapter put out a social media push, and by the evening, all of those tickets were sold," Brown said. "We're expecting a full section, which is exciting. We'll have capos and a drum and we have a really exciting tifo planned, so we hope we have a really full American Outlaws section, whether it's members or prospective members."

So what are capos and a tifo, you ask?

Well, capos are definitely the simpler of the two. They are the guys and/or gals you'll see standing at the front of the section leading the cheers. Usually, they'll be atop ladders or stools and it's typically pretty hard to miss their voices.

Tifos are also pretty damn cool. Soccer fans all over the world love to get creative, and MLS supporters are no exception. Just take a look at some of these sick tifos and you'll probably get the gist.

Nice #USMNT tifo of Christian Pulisic holding up #DosACero

A post shared by Ives Galarcep (@ivesgalarcep) on

Wednesday night will be my first-ever chance to see the USMNT in person — I had tickets to that Gold Cup final two years ago, sadly — and I'll be just a section over from the Outlaws. And with FIFA on a fast track to potentially award the 2026 World Cup to the United States, Canada and Mexico in a joint bid, it should be interesting to see if the Philly fans can do enough to prove to the U.S. Soccer Federation that they are deserving of being one of the host sites for the world's premier soccer event.

"We're hoping because Lincoln Financial Field is a great stadium for the World Cup and Philly would be a great host city," Brown said. "I would love in 2026 if we had a game. I don't think I'll be around anymore to do any of the planning, but Philly will still be around and I'd love for this chapter to be able to host people from all over the world, theoretically. How amazing would that be?"

After the Stars and Stripes played with an MLS-heavy roster during its first three games, the Americans' big guns will be in town Wednesday as knockout play begins. Head coach Bruce Arena will likely have Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley all in the starting XI with regular goalie Tim Howard back in net.

So with increased pressure, the team is expected to take its play to a higher level. Fortunately, the Americans are heavy favorites against El Salvador with Vegas making the U.S. -500 favorites in the matchup.

But higher stakes also mean higher expectations for the supporters' section — and Philadelphia's American Outlaws are ready to step up as well.