PORTLAND, Ore. - A great game.
That was the general consensus all around as the U.S. Men’s National Team destroyed Belize 6-1 in their first Group C match of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup at JELD-WEN Field.
With a raucous crowd cheering the Americans on on, San Jose Earthquake forward Chris Wondolowski scored a first half hat trick for the Yanks in front of a North End crowd who normally--in MLS games--cheer against him. But tonight, they didn’t seem to mind as he struck in the 11th, 36th and 40th minute.
“[It’s] pretty different,” he said. “Usually I get the opposite of that. These fans are amazing and they provide such atmosphere. It’s great no matter what. I think this is my first victory up here as well. It’s pretty nice.”
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann agreed.
“A big thank you to a fantastic crowd here in Portland,” he said following the match. “It was a wonderful experience. The players were all curious how it will be and they lived up to their expectations so thanks to the crowd here.”
And country ruled the day.
“It was amazing atmosphere today. That one stand was rocking with the songs and the chants,” said U.S. Gold Cup captain DaMarcus Beasley. “They pushed us through 90 minutes and they were always hoping that we’d score more goals.”
Even players who didn’t start we swept up in the moment. Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden, who came on at the start of the second half, had a bit of a musical moment in his experience.
“I found myself on the bench in the first half kind of singing along to some of the chants,” said Holden. “I couldn’t believe they were singing for eight, nine minutes straight without stopping. It was a great feeling.”
LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan concurred and said that the environment that Portland produces for soccer matches is well known throughout MLS. He enjoyed having them back the U.S. team at JELD-WEN Field tonight.
“I loved it,” he said. “I think most of us that play in MLS love coming here to play against this team because of the environment that’s created. Outside of LA, this is my favorite city in the U.S. and it was fun to play here with the home crowd."
Though the U.S. Men’s National Team hadn’t played in Portland since a 1998 friendly with Kuwait, Beasley feels that hopefully, it won’t be quite so long before the USMNT returns.
“It was great to play in front of Portland and hopefully, we’ll come back to the Northwest.”