PASADENA, Calif. — Brian McBride scored three times in a 12-minute span, the first three-goal game by a U.S. national team player since 1993, and the Americans beat El Salvador 4-0 Sunday in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The victory, coming in a constant drizzle before a Rose Bowl crowd of 31,628, propelled the United States into Wednesday's semifinal against Gold Cup defending champion Canada.
McBride, who rejoined the team last month after being sidelined five months by a blood disorder, scored his first goal against El Salvador on a header in the 9th minute. Two minutes later, he made it 2-0 on a wide-open shot after Cobi Jones got behind the goalkeeper with the ball and it rolled straight into McBride's path.
For his third goal, McBride finished a brilliant passing sequence by banging in a left-footer at close range for his fourth goal of the tournament and 18th of his seven years on the national team.
He could have scored more Sunday, but the United States was called for offsides three times when McBride put the ball in the nets.
McBride, who plays for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, also made a first-half penalty kick last Monday for the only score of the game when the United States defeated Cuba to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Americans looked disorganized on offense in their first two games of the tournament, needing a goal from DaMarcus Beasley in injury time to take a 2-1 win over Korea, then edging Cuba 1-0 on McBride's penalty kick.
Against El Salvador, however, the U.S. team quickly took control with a series of fine plays on the attack.
Chris Armas started the first two scoring sequences. On the first, he passed to Frankie Hejduk, breaking down the right wing. Hejduk dribbled down outside the box and made a centering pass that deflected off El Salvador's Guillermo Garcia and directly to McBride, who banged a header into the upper right corner of the net past goalkeeper Santo Rivera.
On the second goal, Jones ran down Armas' long kick from midfield and dribbled around Rivera. Jones tripped as he went around the goalie, but the ball came to McBride on the right side and he rolled it into the net.
McBride extended the lead to 3-0 after Ante Razov passed deep to Eddie Lewis on the left touch line. Lewis centered the ball to Landon Donovan, who whirled and tapped the ball to McBride. His third goal was a left-footer from 9 yards away in the 21st minute.
He became the first American to score three goals in an international match since Joe Max-Moore did it in a 7-0 rout of El Salvador in 1993.
SOUTH KOREA 0, MEXICO 0 (KOREA 4-2 IN PK): At Pasadena, Calif., Goalkeeper Lee Woon-Jae saved two penalty kicks as South Korea defeated Mexico on penalty kicks 4-2 in the first game of the Gold Cup quarterfinal doubleheader Sunday at the Rose Bowl.
The two teams played to a scoreless tie after 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime.