The USA cruised past Cuba, 6-0, to record its most lopsided victory in 65 matches at the Gold Cup. Clint Dempsey
, Aron Johannsson
and Omar Gonzalez
scored in the first half, and Dempsey added two goals in the second
1. USA coasts thanks to early knockout punch.
The USA found itself on its back foot in each of the first
three games at the Gold Cup, but it took care of business quickly with goals by Dempsey in the fourth minute and Zardes after a quarter of hour.
For the first time in the tournament, the
USA got contributions from its outside players. Timmy Chandler
fed Dempsey for the first goal with a perfectly lofted cross with his left foot. Fabian Johnson
raced up from his left-back position to find Zardes, starting on the right wing, at the far post with his centering pass.
"From the first
minute on, they were spot on," said U.S, coach Jurgen Klinsmann
. "It’s not easy to get a rhythm going with that heat. Throughout the match, they tried to
get another and another one.” 2. Dempsey responds to Klinsmann's admonition
Klinsmann said he
stripped Dempsey of his captaincy so he can concentrate on scoring, and he's done just that. Dempsey has scored in each of his last five starts for the USA, dating back to the 2-0 win over Panama in
Dempsey's three goals on Saturday -- the first on a header, second on a penalty kick he chipped down the middle, third with a sweep of the outside of his right foot -- give him
the first hat trick of his international career and 47 goals, moving him to win 10 goals of the U.S. career record held by Landon Donovan
termed the decision to give Michael Bradley
the U.S. captaincy in the aftermath of the his suspension for tearing the notebook of referee Daniel Radford
in an Open Cup match "just a little detail" in an interview with ESPN FC
and admitted "a weight had been lifted" by
the decision. 3. Easy win leaves USA in good shape for the rest of the tournament.
Cuba's problems at the Gold Cup continued when
forward Ariel Martinez
left the team, becoming the fifth player to defect since the start of the tournament. With or without the five players -- only Martinez
had started when Cuba opened the tournament with a 6-0 loss to Mexico -- Cuba was never going to have much of a chance against the USA but it looked like a demoralized team on Saturday afternoon.
The easy win in hot and humid Baltimore -- 99 degrees at gametime -- will leave the USA in good shape for the semifinal against Jamaica or Haiti in Atlanta on Wednesday. Timmy Chandler
was replaced at the half with what was described as a lingering knee issue. He was the only surprise in the starting lineup as DaMarcus Beasley
had been brought in for the knockout stage but did not play against Cuba.
Klinsmann had rotated his lineup for the three Group A
matches, while most other teams still alive had used basically the same lineups in their three games. The USA is about as rested as a team can be for the tournament's 19-day sprint.