KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Jordan Morris proved again Thursday night why so many pro teams are eager to sign him.
The 20-year-old Stanford star scored a pair of goals, the second off a steal and feed from Wil Trapp, to give the United States a 3-1 victory over Canada in the opener of Olympic qualifying.
Morris also scored in the first minute off Jerome Kiesewetter’s cross, and Luis Gil tacked on a penalty kick for the U.S. in extra time to put the game away.
Article continues below ...
”I think especially for the team, scoring so early is big. It’s easier when you go up 1-0, especially in the first minute of the game,” Morris said. ”It’s great to build that confidence and hopefully we can keep going, scoring some more goals.”
Canada got its lone goal from Michael Petrasso after a corner kick in the 80th minute.
It was a solid start for the Americans, who stumbled against the Canadians four years ago and ultimately failed to survive the group stage of qualifying for the London Games. It was the second time in the past three Olympic cycles that the U.S. failed to advance.
Canada has not participated in the Summer Games since 1984.
”Our mistakes plus the speed, the fast counter-attack of the opponent, at certain moments, crucial moments, didn’t allow us to have the best result,” Canada coach Benito Floro said.
The U.S. plays its second game in Group A on Saturday night against Cuba, which managed a 1-1 draw with Panama earlier in the day. The final group matches will be played next week in Colorado, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinals Oct. 10 in Utah.
The two finalists qualify for Rio, and the third-place team faces Colombia in a playoff.
Morris, who has already debuted with the senior national team, got things off to a rousing start when he got free in front of the Canada goal. Kiesewetter sent a cross right to him, and Morris deftly headed it into the net before most in the sparse crowd had found their seats.
Morris scored his second goal in the 73rd minute.
Kiesewetter, who plays for VFB Stuttgart in Germany, kept pressure on the Canadian defense all night. He made a nifty move in the 21st minute before sending a shot wide, and moments later made another solid attempt that goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau deflected away.
Kiesewetter also forced Crepeau to make a nice save on a breakaway in the second half.
”He brought a lot of energy, a lot of speed up front,” U.S. coach Andi Herzog said. ”We had two strikers with very good speed and that was crucial.”
Canada squandered some decent scoring chances early. Christopher Mannella was awarded a free kick in the ninth minute that he delivered into U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s gut, and Mannella’s shot off a breakaway early in the second half was also saved.
”Canada did a really good job. They were very organized, very aggressive,” Herzog said. ”But for the first game, I’m really happy that everything worked out.”