U.S. routs Cuba, 6-0, advances to Gold Cup semifinals


BALTIMORE -- U.S. men‘s soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann has told Clint Dempsey that great forwards take advantage of every moment they are on the field.

Dempsey heeded that advice and made the most of each opportunity in the Gold Cup quarterfinals Saturday against Cuba at M&T Bank Stadium. Dempsey scored three goals and the United States cruised to a 6-0 victory.

"You always want to score as many goals as possible," Dempsey said. "The most important thing is that the team does well. We want to win this tournament."

The U.S. will advance to the semifinals, where it will play the winner of Haiti-Jamaica on Wednesday in Atlanta. Haiti and Jamaica played later Saturday.

The U.S. opened a 4-0 lead at halftime on goals by Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes, Aron Johannsson and Omar Gonzalez, and the Americans were never threatened by the outmatched Cubans.

Dempsey scored on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute and again 15 minutes later on a sliding poke to increase the damage. He leads the tournament with six goals and is second all-time for the U.S., with 11. He also has 47 international goals, 10 behind Landon Donovan for the U.S. record.

When told it was the first time Dempsey had scored three goals, Klinsmann joked, "I didn‘t know it was his first hat trick. It took him a long time."

U.S. defender Timmy Chandler left the game with soreness in his right knee and his status is uncertain for the semifinals.

The U.S. wasted little time taking control as Dempsey scored off a header on a cross by Chandler in the fourth minute.

The Americans continued to relentlessly attack the Cubans. Zardes provided a 2-0 lead in the 15th minute when he drove through the penalty area and slotted the ball in the corner of the goal.

"It‘s very important to get off to a quick start in a game like this," Zardes said. "You definitely want to score first because the opposing team will have to chase the game if they‘re down."

Cuba did manage a few counterattacks, but the U.S. back line of Ventura Alvarado, Fabian Johnson, Gonzalez and Chandler held strong.

The Americans built a 3-0 lead in the 32nd minute when Johannsson deftly chipped the ball over Cuban goalie Diosvelis Guerra from about 20 yards off a long pass from Michael Bradley.

Gonzalez continued Cuba‘s misery as he scored in the final minute of the half off a header from Johannsson, increasing the lead to 4-0 at the first intermission.

"Overall, a very nice performance," Klinsmann said. "They got the job done. From the first second on, they were spot on. It was enjoyable. It‘s not really easy to get a rhythm going in that heat for both teams."

NOTES: The United States has reached the quarterfinals in each of the eight Gold Cups that have included that stage. ... Cuba had 19 of 23 players available for the game because of possible defections, according to coach Raul Gonzalez. ... It was the second Gold Cup quarterfinal played at M&T Bank Stadium. The U.S. beat El Salvador 5-1 in front of 70,540 in 2013.

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