COMMENTARY | The U.S. men's national team thrashed Belize in their opening game of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Belize, making their first international tournament appearance, has only two professional players on their Gold Cup roster. The extreme difference in talent from the two sides was evident from the start, as the U.S. held 85% of the possession during the first 15 minutes of the game.
Chris Wondolowski scored his first of three goals in the 12th minute. Winger José Torres made a fantastic run, and supplied a cross into the box that Wondolowski pounced on and scored from close range. His second goal was a diving header from an outstanding cross from Kyle Beckerman in the 37th minute. To finish off his first half hat trick, Wondolowski headed a ball into the back of the net from close range in the 41st minute (basically mirrored his second goal).
While Belize did not have much of an attack at all in the first 20 minutes of the game, they did manage to score a first half goal. In the 39th minute, a questionable foul was called on Landon Donovan, which gave a free kick to Belize. A cross was put into the box and a Belize defender, Ian Gaynair, took advantage of the terrible marking by the American defense.
The second half did not get any easier for Belize. Stuart Holden came on for Beckerman to start the second half and quickly made an impact on the game. Holden scored an easy goal in the 58th minute, supplied by a clever headed pass from Donovan.
The scoring did not stop there for the Americans. Defender Michael Orozco scored from a header in the 71st minute, and Donovan added a goal from a penalty (which probably should have not been called) in the 76th minute. Holden, Donovan, and Wondolowski all had chances late in the match to add to the American goal tally, but they failed to make the most of their opportunities.
In the end, the large American victory was not surprising, given the difference in FIFA rankings (Belize - 130, U.S. - 22) between the two teams. However, Belize did put up a decent fight and their goalkeeper, Shane Orio, kept the score line from being much worse. The win puts the U.S. at the top of their group after one match. The Americans next face Cuba on Saturday.
In the earlier game in Group C, Costa Rica took on Cuba. It appeared that nerves were being tested for the two Caribbean teams, as both squads started off a bit sloppy in the first 15 minutes. However, "Los Ticos" as the Costa Rican team is called, started applying pressure to the Cuban defense after 20 minutes. Defender Roy Miller had a decent chance off of a corner in the 21st minute, but sent the ball flying over the crossbar. Costa Rican midfielder, Rodney Wallace, had his chance on goal with a header in the 42nd minute, but failed to put any pace on the ball.
While Costa Rica had the majority of the possession in the first half, the Cuban national team also had their chances. However, much like their opponents, the Cubans also failed to take advantage of their opportunities during the first half of the game. As the halftime whistle blew, it turned out to be a scoreless first half.
Although the first half of the Costa Rica vs. Cuba match was fairly even, it couldn't have been more one-sided in the second half. The scoring began for Costa Rica in the 51st minute as Michael Barrantes scored a wonderful left-footed goal from the top of the 18 yard box. 16 minutes later, Barrantes had a goal disallowed by the linesman. Nonetheless, the Costa Rican team kept going forward.
In the 71st minute, Costa Rica struck again. Forward Jairo Arrieta added to the score line from close range, after having his first shot saved by the Cuban keeper. However, it seemed the evening belonged to Barrantes. The Costa Rican midfielder scored his second goal (probably should have been his third) from long range on a curling left-footed shot. In the end, the second half was all Costa Rica, and it finished 3-0 to Los Ticos.
Christopher Moore has been following the United States men's national soccer team for over 20 years.
- Sports & Recreation
- Costa Rica
- Chris Wondolowski