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Holden starts, gets assist, goes 58 minutes vs. Cuba as US wins seventh straight

George Frey

The United States continued their Gold Cup push, kicking off the second match of the group stage against Cuba in Sandy, Utah at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium. The Americans had scored 12 times in their last two matches and allowed only one goal in the process with San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski providing four of those goals.

Jurgen Klinsmann's starting lineup included six changes, with three new defenders being introduced alongside two new midfielders and a new man up top. Klinsmann gave the hometown boys a chance to shine with the three Real Salt Lake men (Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, and Kyle Beckerman) all in the lineup. The US boss also handed Bolton Wanderers' Stu Holden his first start in over two years, with the last one coming on the 25th of May, 2010.

Over the course of the game, the Americans bossed the possession, finishing with a 75.8% share but struggled to break through Cuba's defense in the first half. It was actually the Cubans that would score first through a combination of excellent counter-attacking play and flat-footed American defense. Ariel Martinez, Cuba's man of the match, flew down his right flank and beat US and Xolos defender Edgar Castillo for pace before crossing center for Jose Ciprian, who finished well on the half-volley.

The Americans would equalize on the stroke of halftime after Edgar Castillo was brought down in Cuba's box on a late challenge. Landon Donovan sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and the two teams headed to the locker room all level.

12 minutes after the break, the Americans would take the lead through an excellent Joe Corona goal. Edgar Castillo bombed up the left wing for the Yanks and crossed to Stu at the edge of the area. Holden's touch was heavy and he failed to settle Castillo's cross but it worked in the Americans' favor as Joe Corona hit a curling effort first time to the far post and past the goalkeeper. US Soccer didn't count Holden's assist but it wasn't much different from Edgar Castillo's later on in the game.

Jurgen Klinsmann had made his mind up about the substitutions and introduced Mix Diskerud and Chris Wondolowski into the fray at the expense of Holden and Herculez Gomez immediately after the goal. It was at that point that the match really opened up for the US.

Eight minutes after coming in, Chris Wondolowski would score his fifth goal in three games with a wonderfully flicked-on effort to the near post. Kyle Beckerman crossed the ball into the area for Wondo, who was in the middle of a very intelligent run. With the Cuban goalkeeper waiting for the ball to come to him, the San Jose man touched the ball lightly on the bounce right on the six yard box and flicked it over directly the goalkeeper.

Wondo was not yet done though, adding a sixth goal to his tally in the last three games and putting the match completely out of reach for Cuba. Edgar Castillo once again created the chance, receiving the ball in the area and chesting it Wondolowski. A failed clearance saw the ball bounce to the striker a second time and he made no mistake from close range.

The Americans now travel to Connecticut for their final match of the group stage where they take on Costa Rica. The match kicks off on Tuesday at 8PM EST.