Three thoughts on a dominant U.S. win vs. Belize
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Three thoughts on the U.S.'s 6-1 victory against Belize on Tuesday in the Gold Cup:
• Chris Wondolowski is making up for lost time. The San Jose forward had gone nine international games without scoring in his international career until bagging his first U.S. goal last Friday, and he trumped that with a first-half hat trick against the largely overmatched Belizeans. Wondo's goals weren't necessarily aesthetic beauties -- Belize had trouble covering him on the back post -- but he has a remarkable knack of putting himself in the right place at the right time to score. That's not by coincidence. There's a reason Wondo scored more goals in the last three MLS seasons than any player over a three-year period in the league's history. Yes, Belize was poor defensively, so let's not get carried away here. But hat tricks are hat tricks, and Wondo deserves some credit.
• Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden play on a different level together. It's harder to judge given the level of competition, but the same combination that produced a marvelous goal last Friday -- Holden to Donovan in that case -- created another one on Tuesday when Donovan fed Holden for the U.S.'s fourth goal. Of all the players on this U.S. Gold Cup team, Donovan and Holden have the best chance to break into the A-squad's starting lineup for Brazil 2014. Their mutual understanding is plainly impressive, and Holden's ability to play at high speed appears to be getting better by the day as he comes back from his two years of injuries. For Donovan, Holden's goal was another bit of history: Donovan became the first U.S. men's player to have at least 50 goals and 50 assists in his international career.
• The U.S. wasn't perfect. You can only play the teams they put in front of you, but the U.S. had some issues against an overmatched Belize team that was full of amateurs who have other day jobs. The U.S.'s defense was atrocious on the first-half goal by an unmarked Ian Gaynair that briefly narrowed the score to 2-1. (Clarence Goodson was AWOL on the play.) And for all the U.S.'s possession in the first half, there weren't nearly as many scoring chances as there should have been. It's clear that coach Jurgen Klinsmann wants to bring Holden along slowly as he gets back to full fitness, but two straight impressive 45-minute performances coming off the bench suggest that Holden might be ready for a starting role in future Gold Cup games.