71413_isi_coronajoe_usmntdb07132013101_(2) David Bernal/isiphotos.com
2013 Gold Cup

United States 4, Cuba 1: Highlights, Video, Analysis

Behind a trio of second half goals, the U.S. defeated Cuba 4-1 in yesterday’s Gold Cup group stage matchup. Included here: game notes, videos, post-game quotes, and more.
BY Blake Thomsen Posted
July 14, 2013
11:48 AM
JURGEN KLINSMANN MADE seven changes to his starting lineup from Tuesday’s blowout of Belize, and the discontinuity showed in a lackluster first half from the Americans. The U.S. even fell behind 1-0 on a lightning counterattack from Cuba in the 36th minute. Ariel Martinez blew past Edgar Castillo to the byline, before pulling the ball back for Jose Ciprian Alfonso to slam home from eight yards.

“Coming out of the locker room, [we] had good energy and sometimes it happens the energy’s not there anymore once you start the game,” explained Klinsmann.

Following the shocking opener for Cuba, his men soon found their feet and some much-needed attacking intent.

In first-half stoppage time—just minutes after having a goal disallowed for being offside—Landon Donovan netted his third penalty in as many games to level up the score.

Klinsmann knew his team still had plenty to do in the second half.

“At halftime I told them, ‘Guys we really have to speed it up here a level or two.’”

The Americans duly responded and came out firing, spurred by the arrival of Jose Torres in place of the very disappointing Brek Shea. In the 57th minute, a stunning curler from Joe Corona put the U.S. in front and in command for the rest of the match.

“We were trying to get a quick goal in the second half, so we could get that confidence back and try to play our game and try to get more goals,” Corona said.

It was a breakout game for the young midfielder, who finally found the right balance of making incisive plays in the attacking third without trying to do too much, perfectly embodied in his fantastic game winner from just outside the area.

Klinsmann clearly rates the Club Tijuana man highly, and beamed about his performance after the game. “I think Joe has a lot of potential and slowly, more and more, he’s showing that.” The coach later added, “A goal like this today shows you confidence. We are very pleased with his development—he’s fun to work with.”

The substitution of Mix Diskerud for Stuart Holden immediately following the Corona goal brought even greater threat to the American attack. Making his first U.S. start since October 2010, Holden had a match to forget and his indifferent performance may have (at least temporarily) cooled some of the mounting calls for him to replace Jermaine Jones in the A-team midfield.

Diskerud, on the other hand, shined for the third straight game. He hardly misplaced a pass and dictated the tempo of the match from the moment he came on.

Chris Wondolowski came on with Diskerud in the 58th minute and put in another outstanding performance, notching his second straight multi-goal game. Just eight minutes after entering the game, the San Jose Earthquake striker cleverly volleyed home from a Kyle Beckerman cross to make it 3-1.

And in the 85th minute he scored again—this time in vintage Wondo fashion—poking home a loose ball inside the six-yard box.

“I’m very confident in my play,” Wondolowski said.

And why not? He is forcing his way into the A-team conversation with an incredible Gold Cup performance. His tally of five goals is already a U.S. record for the tournament, and Klinsmann is taking notice.

“Wondo is doing wonderful,” he said. “It’s just a joy to see him every day, in training and now getting his goals that he was waiting for such a long time for.”

The Americans finished out the game in style, playing some of their most attractive soccer of the tournament and creating a bevy of chances to cap another impressive second-

half showing. But Klinsmann knows his team has not proved much yet, instead shifting the focus to the upcoming games.

“Costa Rica is the first real benchmark for us,” Klinsmann said. “We’re looking forward to that match. We need games where we’re eye to eye with the opponents, where we know it’s going down to the wire.”

News and Notes
  • Edgar Castillo got the start at left back and had an up-and-down match, looking excellent going forward but again struggling mightily on the defensive side of the ball. This type of performance wasn’t entirely surprising, especially considering what he recently told ASN’s Jon Arnold. Castillo expressed his preference for playing midfield and flatly stated: “I’m not a very good defender.” Given his poor defending and Brek Shea’s miserable afternoon in the attack, don’t be surprised if Castillo gets the start at left midfield next game, with DaMarcus Beasley returning to left back.

  • Despite a slew of dangerous challenges from the Cuban players, Canadian referee David Gantar only issued two yellow cards. The U.S. players and the fans at Rio Tinto Stadium were clearly not pleased.

  • The U.S. has now won seven straight games, equaling its longest winning streak of all time, previously accomplished in June 2007.

  • The July 16th match against Costa Rica, the U.S.’s final Group C opponent, holds added significance for two reasons. First, this will be the first time that Costa Rica has played the U.S. since the infamous snow game in March, about which the Costa Ricans are still fuming. Second, the U.S.’s next game in the Hexagonal is at Costa Rica—the second-place team in the Hex.

  • Costa Rica edged Belize 1-0 in the day’s other Group C game, clinching a spot in the quarterfinals alongside the U.S. The winner of the Belize-Cuba game will progress to the quarters as well, provided that Haiti wins or draws against El Salvador and Honduras wins or draws against Trinidad and Tobago in the final two Group B games.

    Blake Thomsen is an ASN contributor. Follow him on Twitter.
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