The United States Men's National Team continued their march to Philadelphia on Saturday, as they thumped a crisis-stricken Cuba. A depleted Cuba side was hit with a 6-0 scoreline for the second time in the 2015 Gold Cup.
In the fourth minute, right back Timmy Chandler cut onto his left foot before sending in a cross, one that Clint Dempsey headed home with ease. Neither player encountered an ounce of Cuban pressure, scoring a goal not unlike one you would see on the training ground.
Five minutes later, the States almost had their second. Alejandro Bedoya took down a pinpoint long ball from Kyle Beckerman and made his way down the left flank. Only after Bedoya's cross reached the heart of the 18-yard box did Cuba care to intervene. Center back Angel Horta slid in to prevent Aron Johannsson from slotting it home.
The clock not yet at 15:00, the U.S. struck for the second time in a fashion mirroring the first. Following a Michael Bradley free kick, left back Fabian Johnson had time and space to cut inside and hit a ball with his right foot. Gyasi Zardes quickly accelerated off the back shoulder of a Cuban center back and coolly tapped home the cross.
The U.S. grabbed a third in the 32nd minute. Cuba, intent on holding a high line and not applying a lick of pressure, allowed Michael Bradley to hit one over the top. Aron Johannsson left the opposing back line in his dust and settled the bouncing ball. Diosvelis Guerra, Cuba's goalkeeper, misjudged the weight of the ball and was stranded at the edge of the box when Johannsson took his controlling touch. The forward lofted the ball high over the retreating 'keeper and into the goal. Post-goal celebrations led into the mandatory water break, a break that a disjointed Cuba likely never wanted to end.
Just before the break, Aron Johannsson turned what looked like a wasted corner into his side's fourth goal. Michael Bradley's in-swinging service was a bit heavy, as was a fair amount of his service on Saturday evening. Johannsson got on his horse and managed to knock down the ball to nearby Omar Gonzalez. The defender's sliding finish allowed the United States to head into the locker room with a four-goal lead.
The U.S. took their foot off the gas a bit in the second half, but they still produced some chances from the run of play. In the first half, Fabian Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya created a ton of chances from combination play on the left side. Brad Evans, who came on for Timmy Chandler during halftime, brought that type of play to the other side of the field.
In the 59th minute, Evans sent Zardes down the right flank with a lofted ball. The winger cut it back to Michael Bradley, whose first touch was--you guessed it--heavy, and his shot from a tight angle was saved.
Five minutes later, Clint Dempsey converted from the spot for his second goal. The former captain decided to go for the Panenka because you can do that when you are playing Cuba. As did everything on Saturday evening, it worked out for the United States, whose lead jumped to five.
In the 78th minute, a poor header from a Cuban center back led to Clint Dempsey's third goal. Michael Bradley pounced on the ambiguous ball and stormed forward, looking certain to add to the United States' already hefty lead. Oddly, Bradley slid the ball over to Dempsey instead of trying to convert the one-on-one. Dempsey's sliding, painful-looking finish capped the player's hat trick and the team's overwhelming victory.
The United States will take on either Haiti or Jamaica in Atlanta on Wednesday. If they prevail in that match-up, they'll compete for the Gold Cup trophy on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.