SANDY, Utah – For 45 minutes, it looked like the sky might come falling down on the US national team, but a strong second half spared the team's blushes as they pulled out a 4-1 come-from-behind win over Cuba on Saturday afternoon.
Cuba took the lead against the run of play in the 36th minute, through Jose Ciprian, but Landon Donovan put away an equalizing penalty kick just before halftime after Edgar Castillo was felled in the box. And Joe Corona netted the game-winner -- his first international goal -- in the 57th minute to put the Americans in the lead for good.
Chris Wondolowski added two more off the bench to ice the victory.
The victory sees the US advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinals with full points from their first two group stage games.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's team certainly made it hard for themselves in the first half, failing to register a shot on goal until Herculez Gomez's slow roller was easily saved in the 34th minute, and two minutes later, they found themselves behind.
Cuba took a shock lead as right winger Ariel Martinez torched Castillo to get to the byline before angling a cross back for Ciprian, who beat Oguchi Onyewu to the ball and applied a difficult finish from eight yards.
The goal sparked some life into the home side though, and they nearly had one back a minute before halftime, when Donovan had the ball in the back of the net from a Herculez Gomez knockdown, but Donovan was adjudged to be in an offside position.
A minute later, though, Castillo played a smart one-two with Donovan and burst into the box, where he was tripped up. Canadian referee Dave Gantar had no choice but to point to the spot. Donovan converted to his left, sending the 'keeper the wrong way to level things up.
The US showed a much-improved performance to start the second half, and eight minutes in, Joe Corona scored the goal of the afternoon, curling in a shot from outside the area.
Wondolowski ensured there would be no comeback for the Caribbean side, netting his fifth and six international goals to take his total to five in this year's Gold Cup. The first came off a chipped service from Kyle Beckerman that the 30-year-old striker redirected goalward at the near post, while the second came as he cleaned up Castillo's rebound from close range.
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The San Jose Earthquakes star could've had his second consecutive US hat-trick, too, if not for a sprawling save from Cuba goalkeeper Odelin Molina to deny him from point-blank range.
Klinsmann made six changes from the lineup that took the field in a 6-1 romp over Belize on Tuesday, introducing an entirely new back four captained by Onyewu and starting Gomez and Brek Shea in place of Wondolowski and Mix Diskerud, respectively.
The win puts the US into the quarterfinals. They will play in Baltimore. But they still have their final group-stage match against Costa Rica on Tuesday in Hartford, Conn., and will most likely have to get a result to ensure first place in Group C.
Cuba will take on Belize in those two teams' closing games immediately prior to that game.