U.S. team shuts out Cuba in Gold Cup quarterfinals

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2003

FOXBORO, Mass. After his fourth goal of the game, Landon Donovan stopped celebrating and started apologizing.

Donovan stepped in front of Steve Ralston and kicked in goal No. 4 to cement a 5-0 victory over Cuba on Saturday and put the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.

''He said, 'What ... are you doing? Why are you stealing my ball?''' Donovan said after the U.S. national team's first four-goal game in a decade. ''I knew someone was there. I didn't know it was him.''

Joe-Max Moore scored four times against El Salvador in 1993, but before that you have to go back to Aldo ''Buff'' Donelli in 1934 and Archie Stark in '25. Ralston also scored for the United States, which advanced to the semifinals to play Brazil on Wednesday in Miami.

Kasey Keller extended the Americans' shutout string to five games; the U.S. has blanked 18 of its 29 Gold Cup opponents.

With his 33rd career shutout, Keller passed Tony Meola on the U.S. national team's all-time list. Keller has not allowed a goal in 712 Gold Cup minutes, and he has not lost on U.S. soil in his last 22 games.

The Cubans, who were in the quarterfinals for the first time in their history, got off just two shots in the game both off-target.

''In my point of view, the team held up extremely well against a very superior opponent,'' Cuban coach Miguel Company said, speaking through an interpreter.

That wasn't enough to keep up with Donovan, who had scored just three times in 13 appearances with the national team this year.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena said he didn't spend a lot of time worrying about Donovan being in a slump.

''Yeah, reminds me of Tiger Woods' slump,'' he said. ''Landon is the least of our problems.''

Donovan could have had a couple more one on a breakaway in the 72nd minute, when he tried to pass it to Eddie Lewis and Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina got to the ball first.

But Donovan didn't take any chances in the 76th minute, when Greg Vanney jumped the ball on a free kick and then got the pass from Clint Mathis. Mathis crossed it, and Donovan and Ralston were both waiting for it to come down.

Molina made a nice save in the 22nd minute when Ralston headed a cross into the keeper, who knocked it down and then corralled it. But a few seconds later, Brian McBride sent it sent it across the crease to Donovan and he redirected it into the net.

Donovan scored again when Lewis' pass went over Ralston's head, and Donovan was waiting for it to come down, wide open. Donovan had yet another chance when he bounced one to the right of the goal from right in front in the 31st minute.

In the 42nd minute, Lewis went to the end line to left-foot a cross to Ralston, who put it in with a diving header. Donovan got his third in the 55th minute when he headed in a long cross from Lewis.

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