PORTLAND — Chris Wondolowski notched a hat trick in the first half, and his teammates equaled him in the second Tuesday as the United States opened CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 6-1 rout of Belize at Jeld-Wen Field.
“We took it seriously,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “ The team was very focused and wanted to get the goals, and they did. And therefore, we are very satisfied.”
The United States dominated possession from the start and broke through in the 11th minute with Wondolowski scoring on the rebound of a saved header from Joe Corona. Wondolowski’s second goal came on a header in the 36th minute, this one assisted by Kyle Beckerman.
Belize briefly halved the advantage in the 39th minute, when Ian Gaynair found space in the box on a set piece and beat U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
answered about a minute later with another header.
“He’s always hungry, never let’s a chance slip away,” Klinsmann said. “ A goal-scorer always comes out in the moments when his work will pay off.
“That’s what a goal-scorer is about.”
In the second half, the United States added goals from Stuart Holden, Michael Orozco and finally on a 75th-minute penalty kick by Landon Donovan.
The game was played before a crowd of 18,724.
“Thank you to the fantastic crowd here in Portland,” Klinsmann said. “It was a wonderful experience.
“The players were all curious how it would be, and it lived up to the expectations.”
The USA will return to Gold Cup action Saturday, meeting Cuba in Sandy, Utah. Because of that, Wondolowski will be otherwise occupied when Seattle Sounders FC visits his club team: the San Jose Earthquakes.
In the opening match Tuesday, Costa Rica defeated Cuba, 3-0.
After the game, Cuba coach Walter Benitez said he has no knowledge of Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso’s long-stated desire to play for the U.S. Alonso defected from Cuba during the 2006 Gold Cup.
The competition shifts to Seattle on Thursday for a doubleheader at CenturyLink Field.
Panama (1-0) and Martinique will meet at 5:30 p.m., followed by Mexico (0-1) and Canada (0-1) at 8 p.m.
• There also was an international flavor at Sounders training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
Former Sounders and U.S. national team goalkeeper Kasey Keller of Olympia was at training, preparing to join Klinsmann’s coaching staff if the USA advances to the Gold Cup quarterfinals.
“I needed to kick a few balls before I did that so my leg didn’t fall off when I got in there,” Keller said. “But it’s cool. They let me come out and help (Seattle goalkeepers coach Tom Dutra) out for a few days; hopefully get in a little bit of shape for when I go out to serve with the national team.”
• Sporting director Chris Henderson said the Sounders are looking to improve themselves during the summer transfer window, which opened Tuesday.
“It’s been like every window that opens: It’s really busy and the agents are pumping players your way,” he said. “We have some guys that we’re looking at. We have some cash available to look for players, but we’re still pursuing the search and really active, but we’ll see how it plays out.”
• Sounders career goals leader Fredy Montero is visiting Seattle — which he’s called his “second home” — this week. After greeting his former teammates, Montero said he does not yet know if his flight out will take him home to Colombia or off to join Sporting Lisbon, as has been reported.
“I’m just waiting until everything gets done because nothing is official yet,” he said. “So let’s see if I have to go from Seattle to Colombia or Seattle to there. I don’t know.”
• The Nigeria Football Federation says it has suspended all four teams involved in “scandalous scorelines” after two lower-league clubs chasing promotion and needing to boost their goal difference won games by 79-0 and 67-0.