SEATTLE -- Landon Donovan saved the United States from a
Donovan scored the go-ahead goal on a free kick in the 87th
minute and added another goal in injury time as the United States
rallied to beat Cuba 4-1 Thursday night in the Americans' opener of
the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Donovan entered in the 66th minute, his first international
appearance as a substitute since June 23, 2003, against Cameroon in
the FIFA Confederations Cup.
"It's a lot more nerve-racking sitting on the bench in a game
like that," he said. "I was fidgety the entire time, and it was
sapping energy out of me."
Cuba went ahead in the 18th minute on Lester More's 11th goal in
his last 10 international games, the first goal for the Cubans
against the United States since Sept. 21, 1949. The teams have
played just four times since.
Clint Dempsey tied the score in the 45th with his second
"The goal at halftime was a big goal for us," U.S. coach Bruce
Arena said. "We felt over 90 minutes that they would fatigue, and
we would get some chances and a second or third goal. I didn't
anticipate it was going to take about 86 minutes."
The Americans played with a man advantage for most of the second
half after Jaime Colome was ejected in the 50th minute for a high
kick caught Ben Olsen in the throat
Donovan, who had his fifth multigoal game with the national
team, scored the go-ahead goal after he was tackled just outside
the penalty area by Silvio Pedro Minoso. He then curled the free
kick around a defensive wall and past goalkeeper Odelin Molina.
DaMarcus Beasley scored two minutes later, and Donovan got
another goal off a pass from Beasley.
"At this level, against a team like the U.S., you have to keep
your concentration level for 90 minutes," Cuba coach Armelio Luis
Garcia said through an interpreter. "It's quite difficult"
With 24 goals in 65 international appearances, Donovan moved
into a tie with Joe-Max Moore for third on the U.S. career scoring
list behind Eric Wynalda (34) and Brian McBride.
Donovan scored four goals in the previous meeting with Cuba, a
5-0 U.S. win in the Gold Cup quarterfinals in 2003.
"It may look like a blowout, but it was a close game for 80
minutes," Molina said.
The United States, playing for the first time since its June 8
win at Panama in a World Cup qualifier, improved to 17-0 in group
play of the Gold Cup, the championship of soccer's North and
Central American and Caribbean region that is played every two
The Americans, who outshot Cuba 17-5, play next on Saturday
against Canada, which lost 1-0 to Costa Rica.
Arena gave some of his inexperienced players a chance against
the Cubans, auditions for possible roster spots in future World Cup
qualifiers or next year's tournament in Germany. Santino Quaranta,
Brad Davis and Jimmy Conrad all started and made their first
Oft-injured John O'Brien made just his second appearance for the
United States since the 2002 World Cup, his first since an
exhibition against Venezuela in Seattle on March 29, 2003.