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Soccer

2013 Gold Cup: Costa Rica Too Strong for Cuba, U.S. Rips Belize

Michael Barrantes

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2013 Gold Cup‘s Group C opener, Costa Rica played against Cuba, a team that is not expected to go far, but simultaneously knows how to give bigger teams headaches.

Los Ticos (Costa Rica) dominated possession, chances on goal and covered every blade of grass. Winning the game 3-0 just portrayed the difference between the two sides. Cuba was almost overwhelmed by the intelligence and game plan by their opponents. As 2002 finalists, the winners of this game will look to go a step further and win it all this year.

Costa Rica is expected to defeat Belize, but the United States will truly be a stern test for them. Both sides have European as well as MLS based players, but the U.S. is slightly more talented — even with a B squad, the U.S. is setting up and scoring goals at will while its defense is almost rock solid. To top it off, they are the hosts of this tournament.

The U.S. will easily finish atop this group without any problems. Will they score six goals against a disciplined Costa Rican side and be able to keep a clean sheet against them? No, but they can win that game 3-1 over a 90-minute period. They just have to concentrate and play the same passing and running game they did earlier tonight against Belize.

Speaking of that game, Landon Donovan recorded his 52nd international goal and 51st international assist in a 6-1 thumping of the inexperienced nation of Belize. Chris Wondolowski netted his first-ever international hat-trick in the first half to bring his U.S. tally to four. Stuart Holden scored on an easy tap-in after coming on as a second-half sub.

After a 6-0 hammering of Guatemala and tonight’s 6-1 thrashing of Belize, the U.S. need to realize that those two nations are much weaker than the likes of Costa Rica, Honduras and especially Mexico. Even with weakened sides, those three nations know exactly how to play against the U.S. and will do so with seemingly endless energy. The United States know how to respond against those teams, but it will not be easy. If the U.S. want to win this cup, they will have to pass some, if not all of those countries.