The United States opened their Gold Cup tournament in spectacular fashion last night when they took on Belize at Portland's Jeld-Wen Field. Everyone expected an easy win for the Americans, who are arguably the strongest and deepest team in the competition. Stu Holden spent the first half on the bench but once again played 45 after being subbed on at the half.
The general consensus was that Holden was kept out of the starting lineup so not to risk his knee on Portland's turf field for longer than he had to. Oguchi Onyewu was held out for the same reason. The Americans didn't really miss Stu though as San Jose Earthquakes man won the game in the first half on his own with a hat trick that took only 42 minutes to get.
Wondolowski opened the scoring on 12 minutes, tapping in a rebound from aJoe Corona header that Belize's goalkeeper saved. His second came 25 minutes later on a fantastic diving header from a Kyle Beckerman cross. Belize scored in the 40th minute when loose marking left Ian Gaynair unmarked on a set piece with the man heading home to cut the lead to 2-1. Wondo sealed his hat trick on 41 minutes with an intelligent front post run to restore the two goal advantage.
Stu Holden was introduced on the 46 minute mark for Kyle Beckerman as the Americans looked to open the play up even more. 12 minutes later, Stu scored. Joe Corona carried the ball down the right wing and crossed it to the far post. The ball found Landon Donovan who nodded it down onto the six yard box, directly in front of goal. Chris Wondolowski was about to strike for what could have been his fourth goal of the night but Stu Holden snuck in, hit it first time, and gave the United States a 4-1 lead.
The Americans would go on to add two more before the night was done with Michael Orozco-Fiscal heading home a Landon Donovan cross (his second assist on the night) on 72 minutes and Donovan scoring from a penalty four minutes later. A handball call in the area on Belize saw the referee point to the spot. Donovan stepped up and finished well, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
The United States have now scored 12 goals in their last two matches, conceding only once, and getting their Gold Cup campaign off to a flying start. Stu Holden's goal was only his third in his international career, adding to the pair he scored when he made his debut in the 2009 Gold Cup. The Bolton Wanderers midfielder has gone 90 minutes over the course of the last two games.
The US now travel to Sandy, Utah to take on Cuba at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium. That match will be played on Saturday, the 13th of July, with a 1:30PM EST kick off.