Chris Wondolowski and Julian Green scored second-half goals, lifting the United States to a 2-0 victory Friday over Cuba in its first exhibition game in 69 years at the Caribbean island nation.
The U.S. started nine players who likely will be on the field for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico. The 22nd-ranked Americans struggled to mount attacks in the first half against No. 139 Cuba, hampered by a bumpy field at Havana’s Estadio Pedro Marrero that had brown patches, but still extended their winning streak to three.
A 21-year-old making his first start in more than two years, Green created the first goal when he took a shot that was parried by goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez. The rebound went to Wondolowski, who scored with a right-footed shot from 8 yards in the 62nd minute. Wondowloski’s 11th international goal was his first since July 2015 against Guatemala.
Wondolowski, who entered at the start of the second half, passed across the goal nine minutes later, and Green redirected the ball into the net. Green, who has struggled to gain playing time at Bayern Munich, scored his only other international goal against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup.
With regular goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan given the game off, Ethan Horvath made his international debut and got the shutout. At 21 years, 120 days, he became the youngest goalkeeper to debut for the U.S. since Zach Thornton was a substitute in a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 22, 1994.
Maykel Reyes and Roberney Caballero hit posts for Cuba in the second half.
The U.S., which relied on long passes to avoid the challenging surface, improved to 10-1-1 against Cuba but this was just its third match in Cuba following a 1947 exhibition and a 2008 World Cup qualifier. The Americans play New Zealand on Tuesday at Washington, D.C., in another exhibition to prepare for the final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean. They open the hexagonal Nov. 11 against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, then play four days later at Costa Rica.
Horvath, who is from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, plays for Molde in Norway and was part of the U.S. under-23 team that failed to qualify for this year’s Olympics.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann inserted three other players who didn’t start in last month’s qualifying win over Trinidad. Right back DeAndre Yedlin returned from a one-game suspension, central defender John Brooks recovered from a back injury and Green filled an opening created by Alejandro Bedoya’s strained rib muscle.
Geoff Cameron was paired with Brooks in central defense, and Fabian Johnson was at left back. Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan and 18-year-old Christian Pulisic were in the midfield, and Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood headed the attack.
Notes: ESPN broadcasters Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman announced the game from a studio in Bristol, Connecticut, rather than from the stadium.