Eric Wynalda showed once again why he’s the United States’ leading goal scorer in international competition.
Wynalda had one goal and one assist, and had another goal disallowed in the United States’ 3-0 victory over Cuba in a first-round CONCACAF Gold Cup match at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday.
Wynalda and Roy Wegerle scored within a three-minute span early in the second half to snap a scoreless tie.
Joe-Max Moore added a penalty-kick goal in the 76th minute.
Wegerle’s goal came in the 55th minute. Frankie Hejduk headed the ball into the middle of the field at the top of the penalty box, and Wynalda flicked it to Wegerle, who had a straight shot into the net.
“Eric gave me a good ball and I finished it off,” Wegerle said. “We moved the ball quickly and opened up so many times, that we had many scoring opportunities.”
Wynalda followed with an unassisted goal in the 58th minute. Cuba goalie Alexi Reve-Aviles came out to challenge Cobi Jones, who chipped it inside the box. Wynalda, who has 32 goals in 92 international matches, had an easy shot into an open net.
“It always feels good to score and contribute to other people scoring,” Wynalda said. “We wanted to force the issue and get on top as soon as possible.”
Cuba had a chance to take the lead in the 53rd minute, but Ariel Alvarez-Leyva’s shot was touched up into the bar by USA goalie Brad Friedel.
“At times we got stretched defensively and didn’t react quickly enough to Cuba,” United States coach Steve Sampson said. “But we controlled the match 80-90 percent of the time.”
Wynalda’s goal 5 minutes into the match was disallowed when he was ruled offsides, though replays clearly showed Wegerle had passed the ball slightly behind himself.
“I thought that was an exceptional goal by Eric,” Sampson said. “That’s exactly what we worked on in training all week long.”
Wynalda said, “(Wegerle) hit the ball actually backwards. I don’t understand it, but I won’t question it.”
In another game, El Salvador and Guatemala played to a scoreless tie in a first-round match at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
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