USMNT achieves a thrilling draw in their opening Gold Cup match against Jamaica.

The 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage opener on Saturday saw the U.S. men’s national team come back to tie Jamaica, though it wasn’t pretty.

With a largely rotated B and C team, the United States lost in the opening period but tied it up late to end the game at 1-1.

On a corner kick in the 13th minute, Damion Lowe gave Jamaica the lead. Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey of the Premier League sent in an in-swinging cross, with Lowe being set up by Matt Miazga. Matt Turner, the custodian for Arsenal, had no chance due to the header.

In the 29th minute, Jamaica then had the chance to increase its advantage to 2-0. As a result of Aidan Morris’ high boot clearance inside the American box, Jamaica was awarded a penalty. Bailey rose to take it, but Turner read his kick and made the save in the bottom right corner.

In USMNT uniforms, it was Turner’s second career penalty save, and the next-best opportunity of the contest also went to the Americans. Jordan Morris and Jesus Ferreira exchanged a one-two ball in the final seconds of the first half, but Morris’ one-on-one attempt on goal against Andre Blake missed the left post by a hair.

The United States had six shots in the first half, two of which found the target, and had 66% of possession. For comparison’s sake, Jamaica had four shots, three of which were successful, and controlled the ball 34% of the time. Another notable differential of the first 45 minutes was the USMNT’s 80% pass accuracy compared to Jamaica’s 66%.

The United States continued to have opportunities, even if they weren’t always obvious. The best play before the equaliser was made by substitute Cristian Roldan in the 71st minute. Cade Cowell, a young player who also came off the bench, whipped in a low cross from the left flank that hit Roldan, but Blake was able to deflect it away with his legs.

Brandon Vazquez of FC Cincinnati finally scored the equaliser in the 88th minute. Vazquez scored after Jamaica mishandled Ferreira’s cross from the right wing just six minutes after taking over for the injured left defender John Tolkin in an assertive tactical decision by interim manager B.J. Callaghan.

Four of the Stars and Stripes’ 13 last attempts were on goal, but three excellent opportunities were lost. Jamaica managed six shots, but the U.S. controlled the entirety of the second half. The U.S. managed 82% on 581 attempts whereas the Reggae Boyz only managed 64% on 288 passes.

A key factor in that favourable alteration was Callaghan’s decision to replace veteran centre back Aaron Long with 19-year-old Jalen Neal. As a result, the backline was stronger at sweeping and retaining the ball.

Along with Djordje Mihailovic playing sharper in the offensive midfield position than Alan Sonora, Cowell also contributed a great spark on the left flank in place of Jordan Morris.

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