USA vs. Cuba: Chris Wondolowski Proves Worthy of World Cup Roster Spot in Win

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - JULY 09:  Chris Wondolowski #19 of the United States celebrates scoring his second goal in the first half against Belize during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 9, 2013 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

If there's one thing that the U.S. men's national team has learned from its first two matches of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, it's that Chris Wondolowski is playing like he should be among the 23 roster spots for next summer's World Cup.

The 30-year-old was a crucial part of America's ability to come back from a 1-0 deficit against Cuba and fire off four straight goals, two of which came off the foot of Wondolowski.

After just one goal in his first 10 international caps, "Wondo" has taken over the Gold Cup for the Americans in the tournament's first two matches to a degree that nobody could've been expecting, not even Wondolowski himself.

He notched a hat trick—all in the first half and with his name spelled wrong on his jersey—against Belize in the USA's first match of the group stage.

And he looked like that wasn't even close to enough for him with the mindset that he came out with against Cuba. Wondo looked confident and poised as USA's striker, which is an absolute must for any player who wants to thrive up top.

The striker has shown the ability in these two matches to create space for himself in the box by making solid runs and slipping behind defenders.

Wondolowski's struggles have made him an afterthought for the U.S. in recent seasons, but he's taken off with the confidence that Jurgen Klinsmann has put in himand there's no telling where it'll end up.

Anyone who follows the MLS knows of his goal-scoring antics with the San Jose Earthquakes since arriving there in 2009, putting up a productive 69 goals in 121 appearances and becoming one of the league's biggest stars in the process. 

The emergence there garnered Wondo some playing time with the national team, and he's been generally uninspiring for the Americans, up until this tournament.

In just two games, can any player convince his coaching staff of being worthy of one of the 23 spots to Brazil?

I think not. It takes much more time to be able to trust a player in the world's biggest soccer event. Plus, Belize and Cuba are far from the quality of competition they'll face in Brazil. 

Thankfully for Klinsmann, he has plenty of time to see what Wondo can do with extra caps.

Of course, this whole argument is dependent on USA's ability to clinch a spot in the World Cup, but considering the team's commanding lead over the FIFA CONCACAF standings at 4-1-1, it's all but locked up. 

The Americans' berth in the 2014 World Cup isn't certain, but you can bet Klinsmann and his assistants are closely monitoring up-and-coming players like Wondolowski to see how he'd fare in a stacked U.S. roster that featured Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and many more. 

There's no doubt that Altidore has earned himself the top striker spotthat much won't be touched without a massive collapse from Altidore.

But they need insurance behind him and fresh legs up top, and Wondo is certainly making himself out to be an attractive candidate for one of those roster spots.