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Thinking about the memorable U.S. men’s hat tricks

Jul 10, 2013, 7:22 PM EDT

Ecuador v United States Getty Images

Chris Wondolowski’s three goals Tuesday against Belize will hardly go down as one of the top hat tricks in a U.S. shirt. I mean … Belize, for Pete’s sake!

Still, a hat trick is a hat trick, a credible achievement for anyone internationally, regardless of the opposition. So, good on ya, Wondo.

It did set my mind to “wonder” on the subject of hat tricks for the men’s national team. Here are the top three as far as I can recall:

1. Jozy Altidore vs. Trinidad and Tobago, 2009:

The striker’s big night at LP Field in Nashville was significant for two reasons. First, it was in final round World Cup qualifying, fairly early in the process. So this was no ordinary achievement in some meaningless win.

Second, Altidore was the youngest U.S. man to ever hit for three in a match; He was 19 at the time. Talk about “sign of things to come,” eh?

(MORE: Talking about Altidore’s move to Sunderland, which is all about soccer)

2. Eddie Johnson vs. Panama in 2004:

Johnson was just a 20-year-old up-and-comer, relatively anonymous, when he took the RFK Stadium field on a brilliant October night in the nation’s capital. But he left as U.S. Soccer’s next great scoring hope, by then established forever as the first U.S. man to record a hat trick as a substitute. He hit for three in the final 25 minutes of a 6-0 win against Panama in World Cup qualifying ahead of Germany 2006.

That night went a long way to getting Johnson a seat on Bruce Arena’s charter into Germany some 19 months later.

3. Landon Donovan vs. Ecuador in 2007:

Donovan had the captain’s armband for still-new manager Bob Bradley in Tampa when he struck for three against Ecuador. It was just a friendly, but what distinguished this hat trick was the sumptuous quality of the goals. His first was stinging left-footed volley, followed by a classic Donovan burst in behind the defense that was punctuated by a calm, savvy finish, followed by a gorgeous right-footed ballistic smash into the upper corner. Donovan was fantastic around the goals, too, truly one of his top performances. And that is saying something, especially as Donovan once had a four-goal game (vs. Cuba in a Gold Cup rout similar to last night’s).

Here are Donovan’s three goals that day in Tampa.

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