07/13/2013 06:18 pm ET Updated Jul 13, 2013

U.S. Soccer Beats Cuba 4-1 To Reach Gold Cup Quarterfinals (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

By Mike Slane,

The United States recovered from an early first-half deficit to coast to a 4-1 victory over Cuba at Rio Tinto Stadium in their second Gold Cup group match on Saturday afternoon.

Landon Donovan scored on a penalty kick, Joe Corona had the go-ahead goal with a brilliant long-distance strike and Chris Wondolowski finished with a brace as the Americans reached the quarterfinals with six points in two group games.

Jose Alfonso scored the opening goal for Cuba, which gave the U.S. quite a scare despite entering the match as major underdog.

Alfonso fired a bullet past goalkeeper Nick Rimando to shock the U.S. in the 37th minute. Midfielder Ariel Martinez beat Edgar Castillo to the right post and passed it back to the 21-year-old forward to give the Cubans their first lead against the U.S. since 2005.

The U.S. looked to have quickly responded to the early deficit when Landon Donovan put the ball in the back of the net off a setup header from Herculez Gomez, but it was called back for offside on Donovan.

With the momentum shifting the USA's way, the equalizer would finally come at the end of the first half after Castillo was taken down in the box by Yenier Marquez Molina. Donovan handled the penalty kick with ease, sending the keeper in the wrong direction, for his second goal of the Gold Cup.

Donovan now has 53 career goals, which is the most all-time in U.S. Soccer history.

The U.S. entered the second half in full control of the match and proved that it is perhaps the strongest team in the competition despite playing with its 'B' roster. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann had made six changes to his starting lineup from the USA's 6-1 win over Belize on Wednesday.

Corona was one of the five holdovers from the last game and proved to be worthy of another starting role. The Tijuana midfielder put the Americans ahead for good when he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and delivered a strike past goalkeeper Odelin Molina in the 57th minute.

It was Corona's first career international goal.

The U.S. then built a nice cushion less than 10 minutes later thanks to second-half sub Wondolowski, who has been on fire for the Stars and Stripes during his team's three Gold Cup matches. The San Jose star redirected a Kyle Beckerman cross into the net for his fifth goal in three games and added No. 6 in the 85th minute.

Wondolowski had gone scoreless in his first nine international appearances before tallying his first in the USA's friendly victory over Guatemala on July 5 and followed that up with a hat trick against Belize in the USA's opening Gold Cup game.

The U.S. will face Costa Rica on Tuesday.



Gold Cup: U.S. vs Cuba