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US's Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood a 'handful' for Panama - Bruce Arena

US's Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood a 'handful' for Panama - Bruce Arena

Jozy Altidore assisted on the opening goal then scored twice in the first half - including one on a penalty kick - for the US and Christian Pulisic added a goal and an assist before the break. At the end of the round, the top three teams will qualify for the World Cup while the fourth-place team will be forced to square off against the fifth-place team in the Asian Confederation for a final spot in the field.

Trinidad and Tobago is in last place and has only one game and tied none while losing seven.

Honduras' inferior goal difference of -7 has put them in such a position that if they are to qualify directly, then they should win both their matches against Costa Rica and Mexico by considerable margins and hope that U.S. and Panama do not win both their matches.

During the previous World Cup's qualifying campaign, United States of America cruised into Brazil while Mexico were struggling throughout the final qualifying, eventually qualifying through an inter-confederation play-off.

Another difference: The fourth-place Americans (2-3-3, 9 points) won't be able to qualify for Russian Federation on Friday. Perhaps they lost that edge when so many of them chose to play in the more comfortable MLS than fight for spots in the most prestigious Mexican league or European leagues.

Now age 19, Pulisic has plenty of time to reach more milestones as he appears to be visibly improving for both club and country game by game. He scored with a brilliant touch in the eighth minute and passed to Jozy Altidore, who doubled the lead in the 19th.Altidore converted a penalty kick in the 43rd and Bobby Wood got the final goal in the 63rd.

Mexico leads the standings with 18 points.

Needing to take initiative, Arena started three attacking midfielders: Portland's Darlington Nagbe and D.C. United's Paul Arriola flanked Pulisic, a rising star with Borussia Dortmund.

Arena added that the formation was a "gamble" in that it left Michael Bradley to do the bulk of defensive work in midfield, but " we wanted to push five players forward in the attack as aggressively as we could. Predictably, Jorge Villafaña and DeAndre Yedlin were on the corners.

The one major omission: defender Geoff Cameron.

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He's already scored the equalizing goal against Real Madrid in a UEFA Champions League game and passing more milestones already seems inevitable. Furthermore, Arena is fond of the Gonzalez-Besler partnership.

For the United States not to participate at the World Cup for the first time since 1986 would be a hammer-blow for North America and its soccer infrastructure which has grown immeasurably over the past decade.

The Americans crackled with energy and ambition at the start.

Panama is third with 10 points, and the US has nine and leads Honduras on goal difference. "He's been blowing hot air for a long time", Howard said. The big picture issue for the USMNT right now is that obvious one.

He dodged Roman Torres' sliding challenge. He then dribbled to his right, juking Panama keeper Jaime Penedo. Pulisic left Penedo in his wake and, from an acute angle, slid the 6-yard shot into the vacant net as he tumbled to the wet grass.

CR beat the U.S. 2-0, it's worst home World Cup qualifying loss in 60 years.

A sellout crowd is expected at Orlando City Stadium, though there are still tickets available to the Americans' final home match of The Hex.

The two USA attackers reversed roles 11 minutes later, as Pulisic pulled off some individual brilliance to skin defender Michael Murillo and find Altidore for a strong tap-in finish from close range.

Altidore then made it 3-0 just before the half, chipping in a penalty kick for his 41st worldwide goal. Wood earned the penalty when he was tackled in the box on a run.


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