Chris Wondolowski scored a first-half hat-trick as the US opened their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign on Tuesday with a 6-1 victory over Belize, who were making their debut in the tournament.
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.
Costa Rica defeated Cuba 3-0 in an earlier match at the same venue. Wondolowski is the third American to score three goals in a Gold Cup match, joining Donovan and Brian McBride.
The US have won four Gold Cups since the tournament’s inception in 1991. Mexico have won the past two. The 12-team tournament includes national teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean and is played every two years.
The US men were coming off a 6-0 rout of Guatemala in a friendly warmup match on Friday, when Donovan scored twice to extend his US record to 51 international goals.
That was Donovan’s first match following a five-month break from the national team, after he was left out of the squads for last month’s World Cup qualifying matches.
Wondolowski, who scored his first international goal against Guatemala, struck early against Belize when he knocked in a rebound from goalkeeper Shane Orio in the 12th minute.
He scored again in the 36th and 40th minutes, either side of Ian Gaynair’s header past US goalkeeper Nick Rimando that gave Belize their first goal in the tournament.
Donovan created scoring chances for Stuart Holden in the 58th and Michael Orozco in the 72nd — taking his career tally to 51 assists for the national team — finished off the scoring with a penalty in the 76th.
In the earlier match, Michael Barrantes scored a pair of second-half goals for Costa Rica.
Barrantes broke open a scoreless match with a left-foot goal from the top of the box that beat diving Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina in the 51st minute.
He added another goal in the 77th minute after Jairo Arrieta’s scored in the 71st, extending Cuba’s winless streak to 12 straight Gold Cup matches.
“The way we managed the ball, we were able to create some opportunities and we were able to score,” Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said.
The four Group C teams will next play on Saturday in Salt Lake City, with the US facing Cuba followed by Belize against Costa Rica. The winners and runners-up from each group, and the two top third-place finishers, advance to the knockout round.