NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The outcome of the United States Under-23 squad's opening match of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying wasn't in doubt for long. Joe Corona tallied a hat trick, including the opening strike in the 11th minute, in a 6-0 rout of 10-man Cuba at LP Field on Thursday night.
Freddy Adu and Juan Agudelo also scored, and the Americans benefited from an own-goal in a dominating and impressive effort from Caleb Porter's young squad.
Corona's first came after a collision between Kofi Sarkodie and Jorge Fariñas resulted in a free kick from 35 yards out. Adu curled a probing effort into the box that Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper punched away, but only as far as the Club Tijuana midfielder. Corona delicately chested the ball before volleying it into the net with his right instep.
Cuba's already difficult task became significantly tougher in the 19th minute when Dairo Macias was sent off for throwing intentional elbow at Agudelo's face. Five minutes later, Cuban manager Raul Triana González removed Fariñas in favor of Arturo Diz Pe.
The Americans made it 2-0 in the 37th minute. A quick restart on a free kick went to Brek Shea in the left channel, and the FC Dallas star lofted an inch-perfect cross to Agudelo. The New York Red Bulls star was by himself streaking toward the six-yard box, and confidently headed it in.
Corona added his second of the night just moments later. Cuba made a mess of a clearance and Mix Diskerud sent a square ball across the box to his teammate, who was standing at the penalty spot. The midfielder nearly whiffed with his right foot but got just enough of the ball to redirect it into the right side of the net.
The US then added their fourth in the 43rd minute. Shea found a through ball on the left side of the goal and curled a cross in for Agudelo, but Diz Pe bungled it into the net before the mohawked striker could pounce.
After a dominant stretch of possession by the US to open the second half, Adu put himself on the score sheet with a beautiful strike from 25 yards. Just after the hour mark, he took a pass from defender Ike Opara, turned and blasted a rocket past Cooper.
The rest of the half was a passing clinic for Porter's side. The Cubans never had possession for more than a few moments at a time.
Fittingly, Corona finished off the scoring in the 88th minute. The Tijuana man and Diskerud played a wonderful one-two in the box, and Corona finished to the goalkeeper's right.
In their next tilt on Saturday, the US will face a Canadian side that drew 0-0 with El Salvador in a listless opening game. Cuba will attempt to rebound in Saturday's first match against El Salvador.
USA - Joe Corona, 11'
USA - Juan Agudelo (Brek Shea), 37'
USA - Joe Corona (Mix Diskerud), 40'
USA - Arturo Diz Pe (own-goal), 43'
USA - Freddy Adu (Ike Opara), 62'
USA - Joe Corona (Mix Diskerud), 88
CUB - Dairo Macias (ejection), 19'
USA -- Bill Hamid; Kofi Sarkodie, Ike Opara, Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin; Jared Jeffrey (Amobi Okugo, 64), Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona; Freddy Adu (capt.), Juan Agudelo (Teal Bunbury, 46), Brek Shea (Joe Gyau, 57)
Subs not used: Jorge Villafaña, Terrence Boyd, Tony Taylor, Sean Johnson, Sheanon Williams, Michael Stephens
Cuba -- Odisnel Cooper, Yoisel Salazar, Dairo Macias, Renay Malblanche, Osay Martínez, Jorge Farinas (Arturo Diz Pe, 24), Maikel Chang, Carlos Domingo Francisco (capt.), Arichell Hernández (Ricardo Peña, 68), Heviel Cordoves, Dayrón Blanco
Subs not used: Yosmel de Armas, Felix Guerra, Daniel Sáez, Julio Pichardo, Maykel Reyes