One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in a 1-0 win over Jamaica.
Jordan Morris’ strike broke a 280-minute scoring drought that dated back to November’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. After that came the 4-0 loss to Costa Rica that prompted the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann and the hiring of Bruce Arena.
In Arena’s first game at the helm, the USA played a young Serbia team whose starters included only two players with national team caps -- one each -- and Serb keeper Filip Manojlovic had to make just one save. Just like Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas was called on for just one save.
Not only has the USA been short of goals, it's failed entertain its fans or give them anything to cheer
about. Certainly those in attendance for Serbia game in San Diego wouldn't have considered the product worth the price of admission.
Like Serbia, Jamaica fielded an inexperienced squad that bunkered in for most of the game. Against Serbia, the USA failed to find a way through the crowded defense. That takes creativity, unpredictable moves, slick passing. It can require patience -- keeping possession long enough to find a crack in the defense. And you need a finisher.
The USA’s goal against Jamaica in the 58th minute had all that.
It started with left back Jorge Villafana getting the ball deep in the U.S. half. He exchanged passes with Walker Zimmerman and relayed the ball to defensive midfielder Dax McCarty, who sent it to Chris Pontius on the right flank.
Pontius, not seeing a good option on his side of the field, passed back to central defender Steve Birnbaum and the ball returned to Villafana via McCarty. Villafana sent it to Sebastian Lletget, who returned it swiftly with a nifty back-heel to Villafana. When McCarty got the ball back, he sent a low pass to attacking midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who had paired up with forward Morris.
Feilhaber provided the creative brilliance by spinning around his marker and back-heeling the ball to Morris, whose return pass to Feilhaber shed another defender.
Feihaber took one touch before stroking the ball back to Morris, who after a perfect first touch struck low past keeper Andre Blake.
One goal in two games isn’t satisfactory. But at least the Americans showed they do have the capacity to pull off something brilliant. Now if they can do so more frequently, you’d feel better about their World Cup qualifying chances and they’d be a lot more fun to watch.