Jordan Morris the hero as U.S. hangs on to beat Martinique in Gold Cup
With eight changes from its opening group-stage match, the United States overcame a terrible first half performance, a goalkeeping gaffe and a defensive lapse to beat Martinique 3-2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Considering how poor the first half was, the second half response could be called a "positive." At least on the attacking end the Americans showed a bit more energy and sharpness, which led to three goals and the eventual win. The substitute performance of Alejandro Bedoya lifted the team too, while Jordan Morris' brace could help pull the forward out of poor run of form for club and country.
Too many to name. Going into halftime tied 0-0 represented a failure, especially since Martinique was actually unfortunate not to have the lead. Defensively, the Americans were slow, disorganized and too reactive. Brad Guzan's second-half display will fill no one with confidence that there is a clear No. 2 for the USMNT behind Tim Howard.
Manager rating out of 10
4.5 -- Against a team such as Martinique, tactics shouldn't really be the issue. Still, Arena failed to provide his team a creative option in the midfield, a situation that led to a lack of connectivity through the spine of the team. The U.S. head coach wanted to see a different set of players, and he overhauled the team. That might have been a factor in the disjointed nature of the performance, though Arena might be willing to live with it for evaluation purposes.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best -- players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Brad Guzan, 4 -- Made a strong save in the first half but will be rightly criticized for allowing Martinique's first goal on a shot to his left inside the near post. Looked hesitant with decision-making for the rest of the match.
DF Eric Lichaj, 6.5 -- Tidy on the ball for most of the night, with the exception of a turnover or two. Pushed higher in the second half, directly leading to an assist for the second U.S. goal.
DF Matt Hedges, 4 -- Beaten too easily in the second half, directly leading to Martinique's comeback on two different occasions. Poor decision-making and weak in the air.
DF Omar Gonzalez, 4.5 -- Scored, which helped salvage his night. Alongside Hedges, he was too slow to react and lost his way tracking Martinique attackers.
DF Justin Morrow, 6 -- Competent overall. Heeded the need for extra bodies in the final third of the second half by getting forward more often.
MF Paul Arriola, 6 -- Killed a counterattacking chance in the first half with a poor pass. Improved in the second half, and hit the shot that ended up as the first U.S. goal.
MF Kellyn Acosta, 5.5 -- Anonymous at times and lacked the level of sharpness required. With a chance to stamp his leadership on an inexperienced team, he came up short.
MF Cristian Roldan, 6 -- Started brightly before falling off the pace of the game a bit over the next hour. Collected a handful of important recoveries.
MF Gyasi Zardes, 6 -- Provided some much-needed width for the U.S. all night. Maddeningly inconsistent with his touches, but played several good crosses and set up the winner for Morris.
FW Jordan Morris, 7.5 -- Saved the Americans with his two goals. Quiet in the opening half, but used his speed to stretch the defense in the second half.
FW Juan Agudelo, 6.5 -- Lively and mobile, especially in the first half when his work was wasted by teammates. Pushed too hard for a goal in the second half, failing to spot better options.
MF Alejandro Bedoya, NR -- Made an impact off the bench with some smart, late runs. Missed an excellent chance to score.
MF Chris Pontius, NR -- Added energy up the flank, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
MF Dax McCarty, NR -- Helped settle the game and see it out for the Americans after coming on with just a handful of minutes to go.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.