Luis Gil (left) celebrates with teammates after converting a penalty kick in the USA's win over Canada in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 1, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo: Mexsport)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – The message from United States coach Andreas Herzog in the locker room before the team’s 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship opener was to get off to a fast start.
It doesn’t get much faster than a goal inside a minute.
That strike was the first of two from Jordan Morris to help lead the Americans to a 3-1 win over Canada at Sporting Park on Thursday night.
“I can’t remember who played the ball into Jerome [Kiesewetter], but I saw him get played down the line so I started making my run in toward goal,” Morris said. “I saw him look up to put a ball into the box and he put in a great ball. The goalie came out and missed a bit and it just kind of hit me in the head. There was no goalie and it just went in. All credit to Jerome, it was a great ball from him and I didn’t have to do much to put it in.”
That goal gave the United States confidence and its quality showed early, according to Herzog.
“We had a great start into the game. When you lead 1-0 it’s always a little bit easier,” he noted. “I think we played the first 25 minutes really good. We had some chances to score the second goal, but honestly Canada did a really good job. They were very good organized. They were really impressive.”
Morris added his second goal in the 73rd minute, finishing a feed from Wil Trapp to give the United States a 2-0 lead.
“Wil and I just kind of made eye contact and that’s what we’re talking about,” stressed Morris. “You can get on those quick transitions and he played a great ball over the top. Again, it was right in my path, so luckily I happen to put it in.”
While the United States moved atop Group A with the win, two points ahead of Panama and Cuba, which opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw, Herzog knows there are improvements to be made.
He said his team conceded too easily off a set piece that pulled Canada back into the match in the 81st minute and wants to see more creativity in the attacking third.
“After 25-30 minutes, then we have to keep better possession,” the former Austria international finished. “We have to connect more passes and find the penetrating pass through the middle, not only passes behind the back line.”