By Anne M. Peterson Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Maybe next time they’ll spell Chris Wondolowski’s name right.
The striker scored a first-half hat trick in a 6-1 victory for the U.S. men’s national team over Belize in the opening round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday night.
Landon Donovan added a goal and two assists, becoming the first player with at least 50 career goals and 50 assists for the national team.
Wondolowski, who plays for Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, sported an extra “W” on the back of his red and white jersey for the first international meeting between the two teams.
Costa Rica defeated Cuba 3-0 in an earlier match Tuesday at Jeld-Wen Field. The 12-team Gold Cup, which includes national teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean, is played every two years.
Wondolowski is the third American to score three goals in a Gold Cup match, joining Donovan and Brian McBride. The United States has won four Gold Cups since the tournament’s inception in 1991. Mexico has won the past two.
The U.S. men were coming off a 6-0 rout of Guatemala in San Diego on Friday, an international friendly to warm up for the Gold Cup. Donovan scored twice, extending his American record to 51 international goals.
That was Donovan’s first match after a five-month break from the national team. He was not included on rosters for the U.S. team’s June World Cup qualifying matches.
Wondolowski scored his first international goal against Guatemala.
Belize was making its first Gold Cup appearance. The Jaguars, as they are known, qualified for the competition with a fourth-place finish in the UNCAF Copa Centroamericana.
The U.S. struck early when Wondolowski knocked in a rebound off Belize goalkeeper Shane Orio in the 12th minute.
The United States relentlessly peppered Orio with shots and he made a dramatic save when Joe Corona fired at him in the 27th minute. But Wondolowski was able to get another one past him in the 36th minute to make it 2-0.
Belize scored on a penalty kick two minutes later when Elroy Smith fed Ian Gaynair for the header to beat U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Wondolowski, whose jersey read “Wondowlowski” added a third goal in the 40th minute.
The United States took a 4-1 lead in the 58th minute when Stuart Holden scored with an assist from Donovan, giving him 50 for his career.
Donovan got another when he fed Michael Orozco for a header in the 72nd minute to make it 5-0. He got a goal — the 52nd of his career — with a penalty kick in the 76th minute.
The Group C teams next meet on Saturday in Salt Lake City, with the U.S. facing Cuba followed by Belize against Costa Rica at Rio Tinto Stadium. The winners and runners up from each group, and the two top third-place finishers, advance to the knockout round. The tournament concludes July 28th at Soldier Field in Chicago.
It was the first visit to Portland for the U.S. men’s team since 1998. Attendance was announced at 18,724.