Jesús Ferreira scored his second hat trick in as many games as the USMNT dumped Trinidad & Tobago to reach the Gold Cup quarterfinals. The Americans topped the group with a pair of dominant 6-0 victories following an opening draw against Jamaica. Now, it faces the runner-up of Group D. That can be one of Canada, Guadeloupe or Guatemala.

Sunday’s win over Trinidad & Tobago was another clinical performance after a disappointing outing against the Reggae Boyz. The impact player, yet again, was FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira. Following a hat trick against St. Kitts and Nevis, Ferreira scored what is his third USMNT hat trick on Sunday night. Moreover, Ferreira is now the first USMNT player to record a hat trick in back-to-back games. Impressively, each of his three goals on Sunday came in the first half. He capped his trio of goals with a stoppage-time penalty.

The most impressive of the bunch, though, was his first. A lovely take on a feed from DeJuan Jones down the left side allowed Vazquez to open his body and volley the ball into the back of the net. That proved to be the difference in the game, as the USMNT did not allow a goal.

Joining in on the scoring were a pair of first-time scorers with the senior squad. Gianluca Busio and Cade Cowell notched their first goals in the main squad. Cowell did well with the U-20 World Cup side this past month, where he scored three goals to lead the youth team.

Brandon Vazquez rounded off the scoring with a goal in stoppage time of the second half. It is Vazquez’s second goal in the competition. The other was a crucial goal to level the game against Jamaica in the 88th minute.

USMNT into Gold Cup quarterfinals as group winners

Vazquez’s goal, as well as the pair of wins over the Caribbean nations, gets the USMNT through to the Gold Cup quarterfinals as group winners. Had Vazquez not scored, and the USMNT lost, it would be the runner-up. Group D has been a volatile group in this year’s Gold Cup. Canada, the odds-on favorite to top that group, is on the outside looking in as the games kick off on Monday. Guadeloupe and Guatemala play each other in matchday three, Given Cuba’s form, Canada is likely to get three points out of that game. Still, that could set up a Canada-USMNT game in the quarterfinals as a rematch of the Nations League Final from just a few weeks ago.

Granted, the Nations League squad and this Gold Cup USMNT squad are very different. For example, Jesús Ferreira was not on that squad. His inclusion in BJ Callaghan’s squad has been instrumental in these past few games.

He will look to add to his tournament-leading six goals in the remaining games of this competition. That starts in the quarterfinals on July 9 in Cincinnati. The Gold Cup TV schedule has times and listings for that game.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Agencia-MexSport