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Donovan and Wondo continue hot streaks
by Paul Kennedy, July 14th, 2013 12:06AM

TAGS:  men's national team


[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).
Att.: 17,597.

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:
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

USA-Cuba Highlights:

Costa Rica-Belize

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 5:46 a.m.
    Sign me up for all the 4-1 "struggles" you want...........!!

  1. Mario Cesarone
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 8:27 a.m.
    Diskerud was the difference in this game. He sprayed the ball around to his offensive players, something Holden is not yet able to do.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.
    Klinsi changed the starters, got more players involved, while resting a few guys.Not surprising that it took awhile for the team to jell and find their rhythm. The game was never in doubt even though Cuba scored first.Klinsi wanted to find out more about a few players, I think he did.I thought a good result that accomplished what we needed and sets us up nicely for the Costa Rica match which I think will be a seriously contested match and might be the toughest test for us in the tournament.Since we are already through to the next round, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few more guys held out.

  1. Alexander Lozano
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
    Holden had an off-day but still have confidence in him. Shea, however, should not see the field for the USMNT in the foreseeable future & should be released back to Stoke City, where he needs to get serious playing time. Wondo is on a roll & Donovan is playing with passion...but let's not forget about Corona, Diskerud & Torres, who IMO are all making a case for their continued presence on the national team!!

  1. K Dunn
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
    Commentators did not mention diskerud's name once. I kept expecting them to compliment his play. The game completely changed on his sub for Holden. I like Holden but diskerud shows a lot of composure, vision, and creativity. He played every kind of ball, but always keeps it simple.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
    F.Dunn, you're on point. TV soccer commentators are more interested in spraying mundane and irrelevant info and rarely are they on point about what is happening on the pitch. J.P. Dellacamera 40 years experience and Twellman, 2 years experience are winded and clueless. As for MLS commentators. simply horrendous.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 5:03 p.m.
    Mario, you're right about Diskerud's play against Cuba; very impressive. I thought Holden did the same thing against Belize, he just wasn't as good agains Cuba. Ric, I think you're being a bit sensitive about Castillo (or too critical of Paul Kennedy). Castillo was clearly the most at fault on the goal (Gooch was also beaten, as Paul did point out, but not as badly). Castillo had a good game, except for that play (and to be fair, with that guy's speed, most guys would've been beaten in the same circumstances; he was by far the best Cuban player). As for Machnik, I thought his commentary was generally pretty good; I've always thought that the commentators should at least have access to a referee who can explain the calls (since they're such an important part of the game and the commentators are so often wrong), so I like the idea. But you're right, he's most qualified to comment on the goal keeping (because of his expertise there), not the officiating. I think he was (is?) the MLS referee coordinator (assignor?), which is why they consider him an expert, but I don't think he's ever refereed. They should find a referee to fill that role.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 7:37 p.m.
    And all commentators should stop referring to "intent", which stopped being a consideration on foul and misconduct calls back in the 90's.....

  1. Bruce Gowan
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.
    Playing two weak opponents gives us a distorted view of individual play however when players - Gooch, Shea as an example play so poorly it leaves the impression that they have no business on the team. The stand-out players in these last two games may not be good enough against better opponents but at least they performed when given the opportunity. I admit that this group is playing better than I thought they would.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 14, 2013 at 11:50 p.m.
    One commentator is enough. Max Bretos used to do solo games from Argentina and he was into the game; when he got paired up, it all ended.

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