FOOTBALL: U.S. men swamp Cuba, 7-0, in CONCACAF Nations League opener

Three goals in 13 minutes to start the game for Wes McKennie (8) of the U.S. (Photo: U.S. Soccer)

In the opening season of the CONCACAF Nations League’s Group A, Canada hammered Cuba by 6-0 at home and then won a 1-0 decision against the Cubans in a game held in the Cayman Islands in September.

Now it was the U.S. men’s turn to get healthy against Cuba, and it didn’t take long as the American men scored four goals in 13 minutes – including a Wes McKennie hat trick – on the way to a 7-0 win at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

Off the opening kickoff, the U.S. moved the ball down the right sideline and Jordan Morris sent a cross back into the box. It was deflected, but then landed at the feet of McKennie, who moved into position and sent a low liner in the Cuban net past keeper Nelson Johnston at the 30-second mark for a 1-0 lead.

It was the second-quickest goal in the history of the U.S. men’s team.

McKennie scored again in the fifth minute off another Morris cross from the right side, this time with a diagonal pass from the right side toward the goal. McKennie was right there at the end to send it into the net for a 2-0 edge and the rout was on.

Morris scored in the ninth minute on an assist from McKennie (3-0) and then McKennie got a hat trick in the 13th minute with a right-footed shot off a powerful cross to the front of the net by Reggie Cannon.

Cuban back Dario Ramos scored an own goal off a deflection on a Morris shot that Johnston and then bounced off Ramos (5-0) and striker Josh Sargent scored off a set-up by Morris in the 40th minute for a 6-0 halftime lead,

Christian Pulisic scored the final goal on penalty kick called when Sargent was fouled in the box in the 62nd minute.

The game was played before 13,784, who saw the fastest hat trick to open a game in U.S. history from McKennie and a record-tying three assists in a single game from Morris. The U.S. now owns an 11-1-1 all-time record against the Cubans.

In the Group A standings, Canada is 2-0, the U.S. is 1-0 and Cuba is 0-3.

Only the winner of the group will advance to the Nations League semifinals and the Group A standings will be more meaningfully impacted by next Tuesday’s game between the U.S. and Canada in Toronto (7:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2, TUDN and UniMas).

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