Team USA started their 2013 Gold Cup campaign in style Tuesday night, defeating Belize, 6-1, at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. With the win, the U.S. successfully started down a path to their first Gold Cup title since 2007.
Chris Wondolowski stole the show with his first-half hat trick and Landon Donovan added a goal and two assists, while Stuart Holden and Michael Orozco Fiscal rounded out the scoring for Team USA.
Will Team USA win the 2013 Gold Cup?
The United States struck early, receiving a goal from Wondolowski at the 12-minute mark to take the early lead. His second goal in his past two international appearances, that fire raged on throughout the first half.
The San Jose Earthquakes striker struck twice more at the 37th and 41st to pick up his first career international hat trick. And he did it all with his name misspelled on his jersey.
Perhaps the jersey mishap was his form of motivation.
Let’s try that again: For those scoring at home, that’s an extra W on Wondolowski tonight pic.twitter.com/MMxMHNFWUs— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) July 10, 2013
With Donovan finding Holden and Orozco Fiscal for goals, and then netting a penalty kick, the second half ended up being a time for highlights, not competition. Even as Belize put forth an excellent effort, the U.S. was completely dominant and controlled possession for nearly 75 percent of the match.
Chris Wondolowski, USA: A+
Even if they don't spell his name right, everyone who watched this game now knows Wondolowski's name. Not only is he playing well, but he's off to one of the best international starts one could imagine.
In his second game with the team, Wondolowski scored his second international goal to give the United States a 1-0 lead at little over 10 minutes in.
He wasn't done. Wondolowski dominated the first half of this game, working his way into the box and gaining position on defenders.
Video: Wondo's goal http://t.co/0rxM1aTB2c— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) July 10, 2013
Not only was it an extraordinary performance, but it was purely efficient. Wondolowski scored goals on each of his first three shots on goal.
WONDO STRIKES AGAIN!! Chris Wondolowski scores his 2nd goal for #USMNT as they take a 2-0 lead on Belize.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 10, 2013
What more could you possibly ask for? The MLS vet scored goals in three different manners and imposed his will at every turn.
Watch Chris Wondolowski complete his hat-trick, giving the USA a 3-1 lead over Belize: - http://t.co/YhEBYYnfaK— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 10, 2013
Perhaps Chris Wondolowski should always play in a jersey with his name misspelled.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 10, 2013
Ian Gaynair, Belize: A
At the 40-minute mark, Gaynair took a pass from teammate Elroy Smith. Coming off a free kick, Smith hit Gaynair in stride, thus setting up a header for a monumental goal for the underdogs.
It was a goal that displays progress for a young team filled with unknowns and players desperate to receive their opportunity to shine.
And shine Gaynair did in that moment.
GOAL BELIZE!!! It's 2-1 after a wide-open header by Ian Gaynair. Whoa. Somewhere, Tahiti is smiling.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) July 10, 2013
Landon Donovan, USA: A+
None other than Landon Donovan.
Donovan finished with a goal and two assists, netting one off of a penalty kick. While Belize may not be the strongest of opponents, it was imperative for Donovan to get off to a strong start in his return to international duty.
That's exactly what they got against Belize, as Donovan joined the ranks of history.
Is he officially the greatest player in U.S. soccer history? If he isn't, Donovan is certainly the face of this generation. If he's able to continue handling and facilitating the ball as well as he did Tuesday night, winning the Gold Cup isn't out of the question.
50/50 is often a dicey ratio, unless you're talking Landon Donovan. He became 1st #USMNT player w/ 50 career goals & assists tonight.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) July 10, 2013
The U.S. men received elite outputs from a no name and their brightest star—just another day under Jurgen Klinsmann.