Morris’ late goal gives US 1-1 exhibition draw vs Uruguay

Sports

United States’ Jordan Morris (11) scores past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera during the second half of a friendly soccer match Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in St. Louis. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — With both teams missing many of their regular starters, the United States displayed some style and flair against fifth-ranked Uruguay.

Jordan Morris scored his first international goal in more than two years in the 79th minute, giving the U.S. a 1-1 tie in an exhibition game on Tuesday night.

“Internally we’re very confident that we’re moving in the right direction and that things are progressing forward,” Morris said.

Brian Rodriguez, a 19-year-old Los Angeles FC forward who made his international debut in Friday’s 2-1 win at Costa Rica, put Uruguay ahead off a counterattack in the 50th minute. Rodriguez took a pass from Federico Valverde, dribbled around defender Aaron Long and beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the near post with left-footed shot for his first international goal.

Morris scored after José Giménez’s attempted clearance near the end line bounced of American defender Nick Lima and bounded in front of the open goal. Morris chested the ball in for his sixth international goal, his first since the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Jamaica. Morris tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in February 2018 while playing with Seattle and did not return to the national team until March 2019.

“I knew that I needed to get in and take a chance and was just fortunate that the ball landed where it did,” Morris said. “Coming off a long injury last year, it’s nice to get back on the scoresheet.”

Morris’ goal was the first for the 22nd-ranked U.S. since Christian Pulisic’s 87th-minute strike in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal win over Jamaica. The Americans have not been blanked in three straight games since 2009.

“It was about the tenacity of our guys, the relentlessness of our guys to hang in there and keep battling,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Overall, I think it was a good step for this group to be able to play a game like this.”

The Americans were coming off shutout defeats to Mexico in this year’s Gold Cup final and an exhibition last week. They have eight wins, four losses and two draws this year under Berhalter, hired in December to revive the team following its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. closes the year with home-and-home matches against Cuba and Canada in the new CONCACAF Nations League but largely is focused on the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup next September.

“We showed a lot of mental strength and composure,” Guzan said after his first national team match in 11 months.

Josh Sargent, an emerging 19-year-old forward from O’Fallon, Missouri, had about 65 family and friends on hand to watch him play in his hometown, where he sat in the stands for a 2015 World Cup qualifier. His header in first-half injury time went off a hand of Giménez, but Costa Rican referee Ricardo Montero did not award a penalty kick.

“This is definitely something we can build on,” Sargent said.

Sargent had one shot on goal in 26 touches before he was replaced by Gyasi Zardes in the 75th minute. Sargent received a standing ovation as he left the field.

“It’s been a dream to play like this in front of my home fans,” Sargent said.

Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera made diving saves on Christian Roldan’s header in the 11th minute and Sergiño Dest’s long-range shot in the 39th. Dest, an 18-year-old who has gained playing time for Ajax this season, debuted for the U.S. on Friday and made his second straight start at left back.

Tyler Boyd had the best U.S. chance before the goal, but he mis-hit an open right-footed shot from a Morris cross in the 22nd minute and sent the ball over the crossbar.

Guzan’s spill of a cross nearly led to a goal in the 23rd minute, but St. Louis native Tim Ream, captaining the U.S. for the third time, cleared Rodrigo Bentancur’s shot off the goal line. A day after his 35th birthday, Guzan was in goal for the Americans for the first time since last Nov. 15 at England.

Midfielder Sebastian Lletget got his first start since a Lisfranc injury in a World Cup qualifier against Honduras on March 24, 2017.

U.S. central defender John Brooks, right back DeAndre Yedlin and midfielder Tyler Adams missed the game because of injuries, and star midfielder Christian Pulisic and goalkeeper Zack Steffen returned to their European clubs last weekend.

Uruguay’s roster did not include star forwards Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani or midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro.

DEBUT

Paxton Pomykal, a 19-year-old Dallas midfielder, made his U.S. debut when he replaced Morris in the 85th.

WELCOME BACK

The U.S. was making its first appearance at Busch Stadium since a 6-1 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a World Cup qualifier on Nov. 13, 2015.

SMALL CROWD

The announced attendance was 20,625, well under the crowd of 35,761 that watched the U.S. women beat New Zealand 5-0 in a send-off series match at Busch Stadium on May 16.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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