Portland, OR — Chris Wondolowski scored three first-half goals for the U.S. Men's National Team as it opened Group C play of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 6-1 victory against Belize at JELD-WEN Field. Former Mayfield Trojan Edgar Castillo did not see any playing time for the U.S. in the game.
In the first-ever meeting between the two countries, Wondolowski became the third U.S. player to tally a hat trick in a Gold Cup match, joining Brian McBride and Landon Donovan. It also marked the 15th time a MNT player has notched three or more goals in a game.
Donovan became the first MNT player to record 50 career goals and 50 assists when he recorded an assist on Stuart Holden's goal in the second half. The midfielder notched another assist on Michael Orozco header goal later in the half and also converted a penalty kick for his 52nd career goal.
With the victory, the U.S. took the Group C lead based on goal differential ahead of Costa Rica, which defeated Cuba 3-0 earlier in the night.
The U.S. resumes Gold Cup action when it faces Cuba on Saturday, July 13, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The game kicks off at 1:30 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on FOX and Univision. Fans can also follow the live action on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.
The U.S. attacked from the flanks heavily in the early going, and the team's persistence paid off with Wondolowski's unassisted tally in the 12th minute. Jose Torres crossed the ball from the left side and it was headed toward the goal by Joe Corona. Belize's Trevor Lennen blocked the shot near the goal line, but Wondolowski buried the rebound from close range for his second career international goal after opening his U.S. account four days earlier against Guatemala in San Diego.
Wondolowski doubled the lead to 2-0 in the 37th minute with a diving header off of Kyle Beckerman's cross from the right. Belize's defense was caught flat-footed as Wondolowski timed his run perfectly before launching his body to head the service into the lower right corner.
Belize responded with a set piece goal from Ian Gaynair in the 40th minute when he was left unmarked on Elroy Smith's free kick attempt from the right side. Gaynair did not need to leave his feet as he found space in between Michael Parkhurst and Kyle Beckerman to head home the cross from eight yards out and cut the U.S. lead in half.
It took just seconds for the Americans to get the two-goal lead back as Parkhurst came right back to launch a cross from the right side to Wondolowski, who rushed in front of Smith and headed in his third goal of the half at the near right post to send the USA into halftime with a 3-1 cushion.
Holden, who came on at halftime, got into the scoring act in the 58th minute. Joe Corona drove the ball to Donovan in the left side of the box and Donovan calmly headed the ball back to the top of the six-yard box, where Holden finished smartly with his right foot for his third career goal and a 4-1 lead. All three of Holden's international goals have come in Gold Cup competition, adding to his two scores in the 2009 tournament.
In the 72nd minute, Donovan recorded his second assist of the match with a left-sided free kick that sailed over Belize's Daniel Jimenez to Orozco. The central defender, who was making his first appearance of the year, skied for the header to tally his second career goal.
The USA increased its lead to 6-1 after Belize's Ashley Torres was called for a handball in the box. Donovan took the subsequent penalty kick in the 76th minute, slotting his shot into the right side of the net as Belize goalkeeper Shane Orio guessed the opposite direction.