The US men's national team's quest to defend their Concacaf Gold Cup title remains alive, after they defeated Jamaica 3-1 in the semifinal round at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Wednesday.
The result sets up a mouthwatering tournament final for the US on Sunday against Mexico, while Jamaica's run of reaching Gold Cup finals is snapped as they fall short of the title game for the first time since 2013.
Four minutes in, it looked like the US would take the lead as Paul Arriola had a chance right in front of goal, but Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake somehow got in place to make the save. But the USMNT found the breakthrough five minutes later, as Weston McKennie scored for the second USMNT knockout game in a row to put the home country ahead.
Then, the game was postponed for an hour and 27 minutes due to lightning strikes in the area. When the game finally restarted, Jamaica came out stronger, as the teams clogged up the middle and there was plenty of physical play on both sides that often marks high-stakes elimination games.
But the USMNT regrouped at halftime and gained the upper hand again, capped off with Christian Pulisic's strike in the 52nd minute, coming off Blake's save on a Jordan Morris shot a moment earlier.
Jamaica got a lifeline in the match in the 69th minute, as Leon Bailey set up substitute Shamar Nicholson — who also scored the winner in Jamaica's tune-up win over the Americans — to score the Reggae Boyz' first goal of the night.
The USMNT, however, had the last word. Once again, Pulisic scored off a Blake save rebound, coolly finishing off the shot following an Arriola shot to seal the win in the 87th minute.
- 9' – USA – Weston McKennie | WATCH
- 52' – USA – Christian Pulisic | WATCH
- 69' – JAM – Shamar Nicholson | WATCH
- 87' – USA – Christian Pulisic | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: The USMNT got a measure of revenge for Jamaica's pre-tournament friendly defeat, but more importantly they got the job done in reaching the final. The biggest hurdle is ahead for the US, but they were strong enough to be the better team on balance. For Jamaica, they seemed to lack some of the freshness that marked much of their play previously in the tournament.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Big games need big players, and Pulisic made the right run and had the chops to finish on the winning goal.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Don't want to get carried away, but it feels like we're truly entering the era of Christian Pulisic being "the man" for the USMNT, and with a smart brace to assure the win, the new Chelsea man was up for it to book a ticket for the final.
- JAM: Out of Gold Cup
- USA: Sunday, July 7 vs. Mexico, Gold Cup final (9 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN)