FOOTBALL: U.S. overcomes 87-minute lightning delay and Jamaica, 3-1, to reach Gold Cup final on Sunday

Star U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic scored twice vs. Jamaica in the U.S.'s 3-1 win

The United States men’s national team showed energy and patience – at the appropriate times – to score a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in Nashville, Tennessee and move on to the championship match of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The American side came out on fire, pressing Jamaica and scoring in the ninth minute as a Jozy Altidore pass across the box left Wes McKennie wide open at the left of goal and he buried the chance for a 1-0 lead.

The U.S. had a 5-0 edge in shots during the first 15 minutes and looked ready to do some more damage, when a weather delay was called due to lightning in the area.

The delay ran 1:27 and the game didn’t re-start until 10:20 p.m. Central Time. And it was much different. Jamaica was more aggressive and in the 30 minutes of remaining first-half play had an 8-3 edge on shots vs. the U.S. and much more of the possession. But Zack Steffen was ready and held the Reggae Boyz off the scoreboard.

In the second half, the U.S. was creating chances again and controlling the game, until a brilliant pass by McKennie in the 52nd minute opened the door for a right-side run into the box by Jordan Morris. His shot toward the far corner was blocked with authority by Jamaican keeper Andre Blake, but the rebound came out in front and was finished by Christian Pulisic for a 2-0 lead.

Jamaica wasn’t done, and in the 69th minute they scored the first goal against the U.S. in the tournament. Leon Bailey’s cross into the middle of the box was headed by 6-3 striker Shamar Nicholson past Steffen into the far corner of the U.S. net. U.S. 2, Jamaica 1.

The Jamaicans poured on the pressure in the succeeding minutes, but the U.S. found a clincher in the 87th minute when Pulisic rammed home another rebound, this time a laser from Paul Arriola from 35 yards at the left side. Blake’s save came to Pulisic’s right foot and he whistled a cross into the far side of the net for a 3-1 lead, and that’s how it ended.

The game finally ended 3:20 after it started, with Jamaica out-shooting the U.S., 18-16, with the U.S. holding 51% of the possession.

In Tuesday’s semifinal, Haiti frustrated Mexico again and again and keeper Jhony Placide was sensational through a scoreless 90 minutes and into extra time. Three minutes into the first extra-time period, Mexico’s Raul Jimenez was brought down by Herve Basile and a penalty was called. It was Jimenez who took the penalty and made it count, for the only score of the game.

Mexico had 70% of the possession and a 23-10 edge in shots, but the game was tight throughout, with Haiti showing the consummate skill for a huge underdog.

The final of the 15th Gold Cup will be at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Sunday (7th). For Mexico, it will be their eighth appearance in the championship match; they have won seven (goal aggregate 21-5) and have a 4-1 record against the U.S., having won the last two gold-medal meetings in 2009 and 2011.

The U.S. has the most appearances in the Gold Cup final with 10, and a 6-4 record (77 goal aggregate), winning its last appearances in 2013 (1-0 vs. Panama) and 2017 (2-1 vs. Jamaica).