U.S. defeats Cuba, clinches CMOQ semifinal berth

Jerome Kiesewetter (right) and Marc Pelosi celebrate after  scored against Cuba in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 3, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo: Mexsport)

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – The United States (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) sealed a place in the semifinals of the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Saturday, posting a 6-1 win over Cuba at Sporting Park.

With maximum points from two games, the Americans can clinch the top spot in Group A with a draw against Panama (0W-1D-1L, 1 point) in the last group match on Tuesday in Commerce City, Colorado. Cuba (0W-1D-1L, 1 point) will need to beat Canada (1W-0D-1L, 3 points) earlier that same day to maintain any hope of advancing.

Jerome Kiesewetter turned in a second straight impressive display. The 22-year-old scored once in each half, while again creating openings for his teammates by regularly occupying the attention of opposing defenders.

The U.S. took a 2-0 lead within the opening 36 minutes through defenders Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga, while Alonso Hernandez and Emerson Hyndman added second half goals. Daniel Luis Saez netted a consolation tally for Cuba in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

Carter-Vickers, 17, put the host ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute, nodding Luis Gil’s left-sided free kick into the left side of the net from four-yards out.

Recognizing that an aerial assault resulted in initial success, the U.S. turned to that tactic again in the 35th minute as Miazga headed a cross from the right by Matt Polster beyond goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez.

Three minutes later, Kiesewetter struck for the first of his two straight goals.

He easily tapped in from five-yards off an unselfish feed from Jordan Morris in the 38th minute. Then, four minutes into the second half, the VfB Stuttgart forward only had to touch the ball into the net after Marc Pelosi slid a pass across the face of the goal from the left.

Hyndman made it 5-0 in the 69th minute thanks to neat give-and-go with Gil that resulted in the Fulham midfielder hitting the back of the net from 12-yards out.

With the Cubans tiring, Hernandez closed the U.S. goal account in the 76th minute, picking out the left side of the net from 15 yards, taking his time to get it right after collecting a pass from Gboly Ariyibi.

In the third minute of stoppage time, Saez’s effort from distance -- off a pass from Aricheel Hernandez -- looped into the goal after deflecting off the outstretched foot of Wil Trapp.