The United States are favorites to win the Gold Cup. Cuba are very bad. So it's not much of a surprise that when the two sides met in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, things got ugly. Like 6-0 ugly.
The Americans put an absolute beatdown on Cuba, scoring four times in the first half then adding two more after the break to book their spot in the semifinals on the back of a Clint Dempsey hat trick. The U.S. will now play the winner of Jamaica/Haiti in the penultimate round on Wednesday.
It took all of four minutes for the U.S. to go in front. Dempsey got on the end of Timothy Chandler's cross and buried his header into the back of the net, setting the tone for the rest of the match.
By the 15th minute, Gyasi Zardes had doubled the Americans' lead. Fabian Johnson's cross found him at the back post for a simple finish. Then Aron Johannsson ran onto a ball over the top before chipping the goalkeeper. Finally, Omar Gonzalez knocked in a corner kick from close range and the U.S. had themselves a four-goal halftime lead.
The U.S. slowed down in the second half, but not by much. Johannsson was dragged down in the box in the 63rd minute, earning the Americans a penalty that Dempsey slotted home with ease.
With the score 5-0 and Cuba not even threatened Brad Guzan, the match could have been called off, but the rules dictate that the match must be finished so the U.S. did just that. They knocked the ball around and nearly scored a couple more goals, but they had clearly taken their foot off the gas pedal. All they were really playing for was Dempsey's potential hat trick.
In the 78th minute, Dempsey got his third goal. Cuba had a terrible clearance that Michael Bradley hopped on before squaring for Dempsey. It wasn't an easy finish for Dempsey as he had to stretch for the ball, but he did just that and poked the ball into the net, falling to the ground as it hit the back of the net for his first career international hat trick.
Cuba are a bad team so it's not like the U.S. proved much in the quarterfinals. Still, they got the job done and putting a thumping on a team is always a good feeling.