[USA-CUBA] The USA clinched a berth in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup with a 4-1 win over Cuba Saturday in their Group C match at Rio Tinto Stadium. Landon Donovan continued to feast on Cuba with his eighth goal in five games to tie the score at 1-1 from the penalty spot in stoppage time of the first half, and Chris Wondolowski later came off the bench to score two more goals, giving him five in two games to set a U.S. record for goals at the Gold Cup. But big games from Donovan and Wondo overshadowed what was a labored performance by the USA against another weak Concacaf opponent.
Donovan and Wondolowski have 10 goals between them in the three games since the USA's Gold Cup squad was assembled. The USA has scored four more or more goals in those three games -- the first time it has ever accomplished that feat.
For different reasons, neither player was part of the group Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called in for the June qualifiers, but they both have improved their national team stock with strong performances against albeit weak opposition in Guatemala (6-0 win), Belize (6-1 win) and Cuba.
Despite a 74-26 percent advantage in possession and 10-2 edge in shots on goal, the USA struggled to put away Cuba, which led on Jose Ciprian's goal in the 36th minute. Ariel Martinez beat Edgar Castillo on the counter and around the corner and found Ciprian, who eluded Oguchi Onyewu for the game's first goal.
CASTILLO ENIGMA.Not for the first time with the USA, Castillo struggled defensively at left back, where he was starting in place of DaMarcus Beasley, but he teamed with Donovan for the one-two that produced the penalty awarded to the USA late in the first half when Castillo was taken down in the area.
To start the second half, Jose Torres moved into midfield to replace Brek Shea, and Castillo was pushed forward into Shea's position on the left wing, where he was a constant threat similar in fashion to what offers for Mexican club Tijuana.
SHEA MELTDOWN.If Castillo helped his cause as a candidate on the left side of midfield with his offensive work -- he set up Wondo for the USA's fourth goal -- Shea may have played his last national team game in a long time as he struggled to find his touch and generally looked lost.
SUBDUED HOLDEN. Indeed, the U.S. attack struggled to find its rhythm during a disjointed performance in the first half. Shea wasn't the only culprit as Stuart Holden had a very subdued performance in his first start since being recalled to the national team in May.
FIRST CORONA GOAL.Holden's worst touch of the game fell favorably to Joe Corona, who scored the winning goal on a curling shot from 20 yards in the 57th minute -- the first international goal.
RECORD STREAK.The USA tied a record for its longest winning streak in history at seven in a row. The previous mark was set en route to the 2007 Gold Cup title.
July 13 in Sandy, Utah
USA 4 Cuba 1.Goals: Donovan pen. 46+, Corona 57, Wondolowski 66, 85; Ciprian 36.
USA --Rimando; Beltran, Onyewu, Orozco Fiscal, Castillo; Beckerman; Corona, Holden (Diskerud, 58) Shea (Torres, 46); Donovan, Gomez (Wondolowski, 58)
Cuba -- Molina; Malblanche, Urgelles Montoya, Clavelo, Corrales, Joel Colome; Martinez, A.Gomez (Perez, 67), Jaime Colome (Sanchez, 78), Marquez; Ciprian (Zuasnabar, 62)
Referee: David Gantar (Canada).
Group C Results:
July 13 in Sandy, Utah
USA 4 (Donovan pen. 46+, Corona 57, Wondolowski 66, 85) Cuba 1 (Alfonso 36).
Costa Rica 1 (own goal 49) Belize 0.
July 9 in Portland, Ore.
Costa Rica 3 (Barrantes 51, 77, Arrieta 67) Cuba 0.
USA 6 (Wondolowski 12, 39, 43, Holden 58, Orozco-Fiscal 73, Donovan pen. 76) Belize 1 (Gaynair 42).
Group C Schedule:
July 16 in East Hartford, Conn.
Cuba vs. Belize, 5:30 p.m.
USA vs. Costa Rica, 8 p.m.
Group C Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
6 USA 2-0-0 10/2
6 Costa Rica 2-0-0 4/0
0 Belize 0-0-2 1/7
0 Cuba 0-0-2 1/7