Landon Donovan converted his second penalty kick of the tournament for his 53rd international goal, Joe Corona got his first international goal and Stuart Holden made his first start in nearly three years for the U.S., which has reached the quarterfinals of all 12 Gold Cups.
The Americans, who have not won the North and Central American and Caribbean championship since 2007, complete the first round Tuesday against Costa Rica in East Hartford, Conn., then likely will have their quarterfinal at Baltimore on July 21.
Wondolowski scored a first-half hat trick in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over Belize, when his jersey was misspelled “Wondowlowski.” He started this match on the bench, but replaced Herculez Gomez early in the second half and scored the final two goals in the 66th and 85th minutes. Superstitious, he had an extra “W’’ stitched on the inside of his jersey.
Wondolowski, Donovan and Holden all are making a case to be included when World Cup qualifying resumes in September.
While Wondolowski has led or tied Major League Soccer in goals for three straight seasons, he hadn’t scored for the national team in 11 appearances before a win over Guatemala on July 5.
Donovan, a veteran of three World Cups hadn’t played for the national team in 11 months before the Guatemala match because of injuries and a sabbatical from soccer that ended in March.
Holden made his first start for the U.S. since an exhibition against Colombia on Oct. 12, 2010. A knee injury the following March limited the Bolton midfielder to one club match in the next 22 months.
Before a crowd of 17,597 at Rio Tinto Stadium, Jose Ciprian Alfonso put Cuba ahead in the 36th minute. He beat defender Oguchi Onyewu to a cutback pass from Ariel Martinez, who has rounded left back Edgar Castillo near the end line. Ciprian Alfonso then sent a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Donovan tied the score in the second minute of stoppage time with a penalty kick, extending his U.S. scoring record.
Corona gave the Americans the lead in the 57th when he let loose a curling a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Wondolowski made it 3-1 with a close-range flick off a cross from Kyle Beckerman, then scored from the center of the penalty area.