BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG | The Providence Journal
FOXBORO, Mass. - (KRT) - It’s a safe bet that Cuba won’t soon forget Landon Donovan.
Donovan had a U.S. National team record-tying effort on Saturday, with four goals as the U.S. topped Cuba, 5-0, in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
In the other quarterfinal at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Costa Rica moved on after another high-scoring game, 5-2, over El Salvador, a match that included a hat trick.
The U.S. win sets up a semifinal matchup Wednesday in Miami with the winner of Saturday night’s Brazil-Colombia quarterfinal.
Donovan, 21, a striker whose club side is the San Jose Earthquakes, became the fourth U.S. player to score four goals in one game, the first in a decade.
In 12 previous games with the U.S. this year, Donovan had three goals, his last coming in the friendly with Paraguay earlier this month. In 42 games with the U.S. team, he now has 14 goals, tying him for sixth all-time with Cobi Jones.
U.S. coach Bruce Arena said Cuba did a good job in the early going of keeping its form and “making it difficult for us.”
But it didn’t take long for the U.S. to break through. In the 22nd minute, Eddie Lewis found Brian McBride, who ran into the box and hit Donovan in stride. It was a quick strike for Donovan.
The second score came only three minutes later. Lewis lofted a corner kick from the left toward the far post and Donovan had a tremendous finish. He nearly got his hat trick before the half was out, going high with a shot in the 30th. Steve Ralston hit him with a cross from deep on the right. Donovan trapped the ball down and popped it over the crossbar.
Ralston, who had a diving header saved at the post just before the first U.S. goal, got his second in the National team uniform before halftime. This time he made good on the diving header off a cross from Lewis.
Cuba’s Reizander Fernandez received a red card in the 44th minute after taking Pablo Mastroeni down fron behind, leaving the already-struggling Cubans a man down for the second half.
Donovan got his third on a beautiful play from Lewis, who had a stellar game from midfield, and wrapped up his historic day in the 76th, tucking a shot under the crossbar.
In the second game, Costa Rica’s Walter Centeno scored three goals - two of them on penalty kicks - in the Ticos’ win.
El Salvador was playing catchup the entire time, as Costa Rica opened scoring in the 11th when Erick Scott converted a rebound. They tied it in the 35th on the first of three penalty kicks in the game, this one scored by El Salvador’s Gilberto Alfredo Murgas. But the Ticos took the lead into the locker room with a first-half injury time goal by Centeno.
El Salvador drew even again, on a free kick by Alfredo Alberto Pacheco that curled beautifully past the outstretched hands of keeper Ricardo Gonzalez.
Centeno got the game-winner in the 68th, on a penalty chance. Steven Bryce helped put the game away three minutes later, on a 2-on-1 chance from Scott. The Ticos’ second PK, in second-half injury time, by Centeno, padded the score.
The Ticos play the winner of Sunday’s Mexico-Jamaica quarter in Mexico City.