Wondolowski Bags a Hat Full of Goals in U.S. Win
Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski both had milestone nights as the U.S. smacked Belize 6-1. It was a result good for team morale, ASN’s Liviu Bird reports from Portland.
BY Liviu Bird PostedPORTLAND, Ore. — Chris Wondolowski smashed his way into the United States record book Tuesday with a hat trick in a 6-1 win over Belize in front of 18,724 fans at JELD-WEN Field. He became the third American to score three goals in a Gold Cup game, joining Brian McBride and Landon Donovan. It took just 12 minutes to break the Belize bunker. Jose Torres crossed into a crowded penalty area from the left flank, and Joe Corona saw his initial header saved off the line by center back Trevor Lennen. Wondolowski found the rebound and slammed it home. It was a goal reminiscent of the forward’s style with the San Jose Earthquakes where he has become known as a poacher, pouncing opportunistically on chances created by his positioning. “It’s just a huge honor,” he said after the game. “Especially (after) that first one, where it kind of just falls to you, you’re kind of hoping it’s your day.” Belize packed five in the back when the U.S. attacked, employing two wing backs in its 3-5-2 formation. The U.S. found most of its success from wide areas, as all three of its first-half goals came off crosses. Wondolowski doubled his tally in the 37th minute, diving to head home a bent-in ball from Kyle Beckerman. Before the half ended, he would complete the hat trick with another header from a similar position on top of the six-yard box, off a Michael Parkhurst cross. “I think it pays off for Wondo that he’s so dedicated and (has) such a great attitude,” U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “That’s what a goalscorer is about: always hungry, never let a chance slip away.” Belize pulled one back before Wondolowski’s third, as Ian Gaynair was left unmarked in the penalty area on a wide free kick from captain Elroy Smith. Gaynair buried his header in the left-hand corner, well out of goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s reach. Rimando made just two saves of note all match: Deon McCauley looped a shot high as he fell backward at the top of the penalty area in the first half, which Rimando had to backpedal and touch against the crossbar. In second-half stoppage time, Evral Trapp blistered a free kick to Rimando’s right that he had to stretch to touch around the post. His opposite number, Shane Orio, was noticeably busier. He came off his line multiple times to take care of crossed balls, with a one-on-one foot save off Corona in the 33rd minute and a diving save on Mix Diskerud from outside the penalty area in the 57th, notable among many others. The U.S. showed signs of trying to break down the Belize defense through the middle in the second half. In the 56th minute, a neat six-pass combination ended with DaMarcus Beasley pulling a shot wide of goal after Torres threaded a ball through Belize’s back line. “When you play a team that is with 10 players behind the ball, it will take time to open up space there,” Klinsmann said. “We’ve got to just keep the ball moving around, move off the ball fast and efficient, and I think once you get a bit of a rhythm and you score the first goal, then things open up a little bit. Eventually, you will break them down. It’s always a game of patience, so it was not surprising that it took the first half an hour to kind of grind it a bit.” Stuart Holden took advantage of coming on as a substitute by finishing off the U.S.’s fourth, in the 58th minute. Diskerud picked off an errant pass in Belize’s defensive third of the field, and Donovan cushioned Joe Corona’s cross easily into Holden’s path for the tap-in. Michael Orozco scored a fifth in the 72nd minute, rising to head in a Donovan free kick from the left flank. Finally, Donovan rolled in a penalty kick in the 75th minute to seal it. It was his 52nd career goal with the national team, making him the first player to reach the 50-50 club in U.S. history. His 50th and 51st career assists came on Holden and Orozco’s goals, respectively. “I’m proud of it,” Donovan said of his latest milestone. “I’m also very aware that if guys don’t score, you don’t get an assist. I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of good players. I’m proud of it, but it’s better that it comes in a win.” Martinique defeating Canada and Panama beating Mexico on Sunday served as a reminder that the U.S. would have to take every opponent seriously in this tournament. The Americans passed their first test, in their first-ever meeting with Belize. “The team was very focused and wanted to get the goals, and they did,” Klinsmann said. “We are very satisfied with the result.”
July 10, 2013
July 10, 2013