USMNT avoid upset, settle for tie with Jamaica in Gold Cup opener

CHICAGO — Brandon Vazquez scored in the 88th minute, and the No. 13 United States gained a 1-1 draw against 63rd-ranked Jamaica on Saturday night to avoid what would have been the Americans’ first loss in a CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.

Damion Lowe put the Reggae Boyz ahead with a 13th-minute goal. The defending champion U.S. came back when Jesús Ferreira’s cross hit off defender Dexter Lembikisa to Vazquez, who scored with a right-foot shot from 7 yards for his second international goal.

Lowe got his third goal in 53 international appearances, beating goalkeeper Matt Turner with a header from 8 yards following Demarai Gray’s free kick.

Lowe was played onside when Matt Miazga dropped back on the restart by Gray, an Everton winger who made his Reggae Boyz debut after switching affiliation from England.

Next up for the Americans is a Wednesday match in St. Louis with 139th-ranked St. Kitts and Nevis, which opens Sunday against No. 104 Trinidad and Tobago.

Brandon Vazquez celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal in the 88th minute of the United States’ 1-1 draw vs. Jamaica in the team’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.
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The U.S., which fielded a mostly junior varsity team, had 15 wins in 16 previous Gold Cup openers, the blemish a 1-1 draw against Panama in 2015.

The U.S. has 38 wins, five draws and one loss in the group stage — a 2-1 defeat to Panama in 2011.

Turner, playing on his 29th birthday, was the only U.S. player who was a regular at last year’s World Cup.

Damion Lowe (right) celebrates with his Jamaican teammates after scoring a goal during the first half of their 1-1 draw with the United States.
Damion Lowe (right) celebrates with his Jamaican teammates after scoring a goal during the first half of their 1-1 draw with the United States.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

He dived left to save a 29th-minute penalty kick by Leon Bailey, who put the rebound wide with his weaker right foot.

The penalty was awarded when Aidan Morris knocked down Kevon Lambert following a throw-in.

Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake deflected Jordan Morris’ open shot in first-half stoppage time with his right arm, then blocked Cristian Roldan’s 71st-minute effort with a leg.

Eight U.S. starters picked by interim coach B.J. Callaghan were from Major League Soccer.

Gregg Berhalter, whose contract expired in December and and who was rehired June 16, was on hand to watch at Soldier Field and won’t resume coaching until September.

Midfielders Alan Soñora and Aiden Morris played their first competitive matches for the U.S., tying the dual nationals to the American team.

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