COMMENTARY | Tuesday evening's Gold Cup match was way more "job done" than it was a spotlight performance for the United States Men's National Team. The truth of the matter is that even a so-called US B-squad should absolutely dominate Belize whenever the two meet on American soil. That the 6-1 scoreline was a bit flattering to the visitors tells you just how one-sided an affair this was. Sure, the US were far from perfect in their 2013 Gold Cup opener.
Anybody being overly critical of even one of Jurgen Klinsmann's players after that performance is doing it just to do it.
United States 6-1 Belize: Wondo
2013 has not been all that kind to Chris Wondolowski. His 2012 shooting boots have largely been M.I.A. since the beginning of March, and his San Jose Earthquakes are currently the second-worst team in the Major League Soccer Western Conference. There had, leading up to the start of the Gold Cup competition, even been whispers that Wondo could fall down beneath Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney in Klinsmann's depth chart.
Wondolowski's first half hat-trick looks far better on paper than it was in real life. His first goal was a "Wondo Special," a poacher's tap-in off a rebound that was always going to result in a goal regardless of which US player was standing in that particular spot. The two headers that he buried, while perfectly executed, were the results of poor man-marking as much as they were brilliant finishes. Sometimes, goals are more than about putting tallies on the scoreboard, and hopefully that will be the case for the San Jose striker moving forward.
A simple tap-in goal can do a lot for a forward who is going through a drought. Wondolowski, winner of the the 2012 MLS MVP and 2012 Golden Boot awards, entered this tournament having not found the back of the net in over two months in league play. Perhaps these next several weeks will be the breakthrough he needs, and not just while on national team duty.
United States 6-1 Belize: He's back
Landon Donovan putting up monster stats against the likes of Guatemala and Belize means about as much to me as do the stats of a FIFA 13 player who routinely utilizes Spain on "Amateur" mode. Donovan's consistent work rate throughout what was essentially a walkabout for the Americans is what most stood out to me, and that more so than his stat sheet (one goal and two assists) is why he earned my man of the match honors. The man who will, the second he retires, go down as the greatest American to have thus far ever played this game has returned from a controversial hiatus from club and country as if he never left, and he even seemed to be enjoying his football during Tuesday's romp.
I have little doubt that the United States could win this competition without an in-form Donovan in the starting XI. His being the engine of the US attack and also a leader on the pitch makes this squad just that much better, and it also means that we are all-but guaranteed to see him in the lineup once World Cup Qualifiers begin. That's nothing but a plus for Klinsmann and company assuming that Donovan keeps his form and this positive attitude that we've witnessed over the past half-week.
United States 6-1 Belize: Perspective
Is it fair to say that, outside of the three points and plus-five goal difference, Tuesday's game meant little for US Soccer? Yes and no. Nobody in the US squad gets a gold star for beating up on Belize, but that 6-1 result wasn't just a win. It was a statement from the US to the likes of Panama and, of course, Mexico: You'll have to go through us if you want to be hoisting a trophy when all is said and done. Some may point out that such boasts mean nothing after 90+ minutes of blowout soccer.
Mexico would love to have that kind of confidence right now.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- United States
- Major League Soccer
- Chris Wondolowski
- Landon Donovan