Weston McKennie scored the quickest hat trick from the opening whistle in U.S. Men's National Team history, helping the Americans cruise to a 7-0 victory over Cuba in their CONCACAF Nations League opener Friday night at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
McKennie's hat trick, complete by the 13th minute, was also the first of any sort by an American player in more than two years. The now-retired Clint Dempsey had the last, in a 6-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Honduras back in March 2017.
Jordan Morris scored and became the third U.S. player to contribute three assists in a match, joining Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones. Two assists went to McKennie.
With what is expected to be a much more difficult match waiting for the U.S. next Tuesday in Canada, McKennie and Morris both exited at halftime.
Canada has already beaten Cuba twice in League A, Group A competition to lead the group with six points and a plus-seven goal differential. After Tuesday, the U.S. will play Canada at home and then at Cuba -- both matches next month -- to close out their four-game group phase, with the higher finisher between the U.S. and Canada moving on to the League A semifinals next year.
Cuba was officially eliminated from group contention in the defeat, outscored 14-0 in their three matches so far in the competition.
Josh Sargent added a goal before halftime, and Christian Pulisic converted from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute. Pulisic and McKennie also worked a slick combination that resulted in an own goal to account for the other tally in a first half that ended with the U.S. holding a 6-0 lead.
McKennie's first goal just 30 seconds into the match and his second, coming fewer than four minutes later, came on nearly identical sequences. In both, Morris beat his man down the right flank, then drove in a low cross toward the back post.
McKennie had time to collect the pass and fire a calm finish past goalkeeper Nelson Johnston on the first. On the second, he narrowly beat a defender to redirect the ball over the goal line with Johnston already beaten.
Morris made it 3-0 before Reggie Cannon set up McKennie's third, darting into the right side of the penalty area before finding him with yet another low cross.
--Field Level Media