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Gold Cup: U.S. squeaks past Martinique in Group B play

United States' Jordan Morris celebrates after scoring a

United States' Jordan Morris celebrates after scoring a goal against Martinique with teammates including Cristian Roldan and Alejandro Bedoya during a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Credit: AP / John Raoux

TAMPA, Fla. — Jordan Morris’ second goal of the game broke a tie in the 76th minute, and the United States edged tiny Martinique 3-2 Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Gold Cup after wasting a two-goal lead against a team that is not even a member of FIFA.

Failing to break through in the first half, the U.S. built a 2-0 lead on goals by Omar Gonzalez in the 53rd minute and Morris in the 64th.

But Martinique, a French overseas department, tied the score on a pair of goals by Kevin Parsemain, the first a long-range shot that went past goalkeeper Brad Guzan on a bounce and the second a pass that hit Parsemain and went in on the deflection.

The U.S., which opened last weekend with a 1-1 tie against Panama, completes group play Saturday in Cleveland against Nicaragua, which lost to Panama 2-1 earlier Wednesday.

“We’re certainly guilty of making the game a lot more difficult on us than it needed to be,” said U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who thought his team played well.

The Americans improved 5-0-5 since Arena returned for a second stint as national team coach, replacing Jurgen Klinsmann.

Using a mostly junior varsity lineup in the tournament, the U.S. leads Group B with four points, ahead of Panama on goal difference. Martinique is third with three, following by Nicaragua with none. The top two teams in each of the three groups advance to the quarterfinals along with the two best third-place teams.

One of just three holdovers from the starting lineup last weekend, Gonzalez scored his second international goal after Martinique failed to clear a corner kick. Paul Arriola’s deflected shot from outside the penalty area was parried by goalkeeper Kevin Olimpa and fell to the defender, who kicked in the rebound with his left foot from short range.

Morris doubled the lead when second-half substitute Alejandro Bedoya passed to Eric Lichaj running down the right flank, Lichaj crossed and Morris redirected the ball in.

After Martinique tied it, Morris got his fourth international goal about 90 seconds later. He passed to Gyasi Zardes, who laid the ball back for the 22-year-old forward, and Morris scored with a right-footed shot from near the penalty spot.

Midfielder Cristian Roldan made his U.S. debut and defender Justin Morrow his first international appearance in 4½ years as Arena made eight lineup changes. Lichaj had not played for the national team since May 2016.

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