Borussia Dortmund starlet Christian Pulisic and Hamburg striker Bobby Wood were both influential as the USA beat Panama by a 4-0 scoreline on Friday night, a crucial win that moves Bruce Arena’s side closer to competing in next year’s World Cup.
Pulisic, playing in a central attacking midfield role behind lone striker Jozy Altidore, scored the opening goal after only eight minutes, rounding the keeper from Altidore’s flick-on and finishing from a tight angle to the relief of the Orlando crowd. Remarkably, it was Pulisic’s eighth goal in only 20 internationals, six of which have come in World Cup qualifying.
Ten minutes later Pulisic was at it again: the Dortmund teenager provided a perfect low cross, allowing Altidore to poke home from inside the six-yard box.
Next, it was Wood’s turn. Breaking into the box in the 42nd minute, the Hamburg striker was hauled down and Altidore stepped up to convert the resultant penalty. Not to be denied his name on the score sheet, Wood completed the rout in the second half, poking a clever finish past Jaime Penedo in the Panama goal. By that point, Pulisic had been taken off to a standing ovation, a successful night’s work completed.
The USMNT now sit third in the CONCACAF qualifying group, the final automatic qualifying position. If Arena’s troops win in Trinidad on Tuesday night (or Panama fail to beat Costa Rica at home) then they will be going to the World Cup, allowing Pulisic the grandest stage to showcase his burgeoning talent.
Watch: Pulisic has been tearing it up this season in the Bundesliga - check out his individual highlights!