Dempsey powers USA to victory over Cuba
BALTIMORE, July 19
Clint Dempsey’s first international hat-trick sparked defending champions United States over Cuba 6-0 on Saturday, propelling the Americans to the semi-finals of the Gold Cup football tournament.
The 32-year-old former Fulham striker nodded in the opening goal in the fourth minute, tucked in a penalty kick in the 64th minute and scored on a sliding right-footed flick in the 78th to seize the scoring lead in the biennial North American championship.
“It feels good. I have gotten them for my club before. Obviously, I’m fortunate. I wouldn’t be able to put the ball in the back of the net without my teammates,” said Dempsey. “You always want to score as many goals as you can. But the main thing is we won game.”
By routing their rivals before 37,994 fans at the home of the NFL Baltimore Ravens, the Americans advanced to a Wednesday matchup in Atlanta against Jamaica, a 1-0 winners over Haiti in another quarter-final game. “We are definitely the underdog,” Jamaica’s German coach Winfried Schaefer said of clash with a US.
Dempsey’s six Gold Cup goals make him the man to catch for the Golden Boot scoring award. The Seattle Sounders forward’s 47 career goals put him second on the all-time US list, 10 shy of Landon Donovan’s record. “He’s hungry for goals and he has two more meals,” Klinsmann said of Dempsey, “It took him long enough.”
Striker Gyasi Zardes scored in the 14th minute, Aron Johannsson chipped in over Cuban goalkeeper Diosvelis Guerra in the 32nd minute and Omar Gonzalez netted another goal in the 45th minute as the US took their most lopsided Gold Cup triumph ever against a Cuban side depleted by defections.
The Americans — trying to match Mexico’s record six Gold Cup crowns — stretched their win streak over Cuba to nine matches and improved to 9-1-1 all-time against the opponents. A title repeat would see the Americans clinch a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. The Americans must play this year’s Gold Cup champion for the spot if they do not reclaim the trophy.