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Wondolowski thrives in his spell in the spotlight

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Chris Wondolowski wears a jersey with his name misspelled during the game against Belize. Don Ryan / AP Photo
Chris Wondolowski wears a jersey with his name misspelled during the game against Belize. Don Ryan / AP Photo

Chris Wondolowski’s misspelled jersey was about the only thing that was amiss for the United States men’s football team.

The national team jumped on Belize with Wondolowski’s first-half hat-trick and cruised to a 6-1 victory to open the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament on Tuesday night.

Landon Donovan had a goal and two assists, becoming the first national team player with at least 50 career goals and 50 assists.

But Wondolowski, who just scored his first international goal last weekend, stole the show, sporting an extra “W” – “Wondowlowski” – on his red and white jersey when he popped in his three goals against Belize.

Laughing about it afterwards, he pondered whether he should wear it for the remainder of the tournament. “I’m pretty superstitious, so we’ll see what we can conjure up,” he said.

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 won the past two.

“It’s just great to get the start, especially in front of some great fans, and they provide such an atmosphere that makes it exciting and it makes you want to go out there and play,” Wondolowski said.

Wondolowski certainly made the most of his chances against Belize, who were making their first Gold Cup appearance. The Jaguars, as they are known, qualified for the competition with a fourth-place finish in the UNCAF Copa Centroamericana.

After the round-robin phase, the winners and runners up from each group, and the two top third-place finishers, advance to the knockout round. The Gold Cup tournament concludes July 28 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

– Associated Press