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Gold Cup: Wondolowski hat trick leads U.S. in 6-1 rout of Belize

Jul 10, 2013, 12:57 AM EST

Wondolowski and Corona of the U.S. react to a goal against Belize during their CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match in Portland, Oregon Reuters

PORTLAND, Ore. – The name on his back may have undermined his renown, “Wondowlowski” erroneously ironed onto his jersey, but after 42 minutes on Tuesday at JELD-WEN Field, nobody was talking about the typo scrawled across his shoulders. Instead, the buzz around Chris Wondolowski centered on his second, third and fourth international goals, all scored before halftime, with the reigning Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player lifting the U.S. to a 6-1 win over Belize in their opening match of the 2013 Gold Cup.

Belize’s only goal came the 39th minute, with defender Ian Gaynair heading home a restart to briefly pull the underdogs within one. But building on Wondolowski’s third just before intermission, second half tallies from Stuart Holden, Michael Orozco, and Landon Donovan helped push the U.S. to the top of Group C, their goal difference giving them a tiebreaker advantage over Costa Rica.

The Ticos also sit on three points after winning the night’s opening match, getting two goals from midfielder Michael Barrantes en route to a 3-0 win over Cuba.

(MORE: U.S. player ratings from Tuesday’s win)

Belize, playing in their first major international competition, were expected to offer little resistance to one of the tournament favorites, so it was no surprise when the U.S. dominated play from the opening kick off. Forcing two corner kicks in the first 90 seconds and maintaining over 80 percent of the match’s possession over the first 10 minutes, the Americans quickly pushed their opponents deep into their own end. With the ball rarely in the U.S.’s half,  the Americans appeared destined for a quick break through.

That break through came in 12th minute when left midfielder Jose Torres beat Belize right back Evan Mariano to get a far post cross in from the byline. There, Joe Corona out-jumped his man to head the cross down into the six, where the ball was left for Chris Wondolowski to open the scoring from close range.

(MORE: A few takeaways from the United States’ win)

After another spell of U.S. control, Belize nearly equalized, a freak deflection of a Deon McCauley 24rd minute shot sending the ball looping toward Nick Rimando’s left post. The Real Salt Lake keeper leapt and got a hand to a ball that appeared destined to nail his post.

The U.S. had a number of chances to double their lead near the half hour mark, with Corona firing a ball into Woodrow West’s feet in the 32nd minute before Torres’s 36th minute half volley  went over the bar from six yards out. One minute later, however, a cross from the right from Kyle Beckerman found Wondolowski in middle of the Belize area, his header powered past West to make it 2-0.

Four minutes later, the U.S. gave the goal back. A foul along Belize’s right flank by Landon Donovan gave up a set piece, one converted by a Ian Gaynair header after Elroy Smith found him unmarked just outside Nick Rimando’s six-yard box.

But it was only two minutes until the U.S. restored their lead, with Wondolowski completing his hat trick after diving onto a cross from Corona. Raising this international total to four goals in 13 caps, Wondolowski returned the U.S. to the two-goal lead they’d enjoyed for much of the half, sending his team into intermission up 3-1.

In the 58th minute, the U.S. padded their goal difference when Stu Holden, who had come on for Beckerman at halftime, finished from six yards out, recording his first international goal in four years. Off a far post cross from Corona, Donovan headed down for the still returning midfielder, whose third international goal marked the latest step in his comeback from repeated knee injuries.

For Donovan, it was his 50th international assist, reaching a plateau he passed in goals on Friday with his double against Guatemala. It wasn’t long, through, before the country’s all-time leading scorer added his second assist of the night, his restart from deep on the U.S.’s left flank swinging onto Orozco in the six-yard box, the defender heading home to put the U.S. up four.

In the 77th minute, Donovan added to his scoring record, scoring from the penalty spot after a Belize hand ball, registering his 52nd career goal.

The win leaves the U.S. even on points with Costa Rica at the top of Group C ahead of Sunday’s match with Cuba, but with goal difference being the tournament’s first group stage tiebreaker, the team’s +5 difference leaves the one spot above the Ticos, who beat Cuba by three in the night’s opener.

  1. 69jaredallen69 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    Hopefully they are slowly building up Holden’s fitness…Beckerman drinking game was in full force tonight. Not too many drinks for forward passes

  2. kingarthur900 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    “the country’s all-time leading scorer”?? Really? When 8 people have more, including Abby Wambach’s 160? How about “the country’s all-time MENS leading scorer”?

    • jpan007 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:30 AM

      keep whining lol

    • mvktr2 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:39 AM

      The article is talking about men’s soccer, the statement is understood as such by those with working brains.

      Give it a rest already!

    • Richard Farley - Jul 10, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      Imagine how many fewer women’s athletes we would recognize if we lumped all their accomplishments in with men, making all records gender neutral. Women sprinters? No world records for you. Swimmers? Sorry, you’re still chasing Michael Phelps. Golfers? Call me when you beat Tiger. Female distance athletes, weight lifters, speed skaters? Get out.

      This is a ridiculous line of reasoning that I’m seeing more and more, and as somebody who extensively covers the NWSL and women’s national team, I really wish it would stop. Women’s teams, athletes, and sports are meritorious independent of anything that happens in the men’s game. And vice versa.

      Promoting this kind of comparison, and worse, assuming that the author and audience are unaware of the women’s game (clearly not the case with me) does a service for no one, including yourself.

      • oddte - Jul 10, 2013 at 3:31 AM

        aaand Richard Farley wins the conversation. Never heard it said better.

      • kingarthur900 - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        Or, think of how many women’s accomplishments “we” ignore right now because “we” use the sloppy language “the country” to mean only men. “The country” includes men and women. I reject your assertion that the assumption behind this word choice is irrelevant. I know this is just a little blog where the the language choices in the posts don’t get much editing, but facts are facts. If you say Landon is “the country’s all-time leading scorer” then you’re just wrong, same as if I wrote, in an article about college basketball, Lynette Woodard is “the country’s all-time leading scorer” (when it’s really Pistol Pete Maravich). If I didn’t include the qualifier “women’s” with “the country’s”, you’d howl at me for being wrong. Your sensibilities would be offended, wouldn’t they? Because “the country” includes men, too.

      • simianvector - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        No, I’m quite confident that the only people who’d have their sensibilities offended and would howl at you if you referred to Woodard as the all time leading scorer in an article quite blatantly about womens’ basketball would be the sort of self-righteous and tedious pedant that mercifully we don’t see much of around here. So I think you’re safe.

      • joeyt360 - Jul 10, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        LOOK AT ME I WANT A COOKIE!

        That’s pretty much what you’re saying right now, kingarthur900.

    • simianvector - Jul 10, 2013 at 3:26 AM

      Kevin Durant scored 244 for the US just in 2012. Wambach isn’t even close.

      • krazymunky - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Pretty sure Michael Jordan is the leading scorer for the USA

      • simianvector - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Maybe. It’s hard to find stats. He did play in an era when pros were excluded from the Olympics. And I’m not sure the FIBA championships existed yet. Regardless, I think we can all agree that Farley’s casual dismissal of basketball players from American citizenship with his word choice is deeply troubling and probably a reflection of his deep-seated hatred for tall people.

  3. godsholytrousers - Jul 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    King Arthur, there is no comparison. Women and Men are different, facts are facts.

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