KENYA BROWN - Saturday, September 3, 2016
A dominant performance by the United States saw them get one step closer to qualifying for the Hex as they thrashed St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday in Kingstown.
Goals from Bobby Wood, Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestan and two goals from Christian Pulisic ensured that the US will go into their game against Trinidad and Tobago with a chance to finish atop of Group C.
The US came into this game missing a few key players. Captain Michael Bradley missed out along with Michael Orozco as they served suspensions, while Clint Dempsey was out as doctors diagnosed him with an irregular heartbeat.
The absence of the Seattle Sounders forward meant that Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore would be relied upon to score the goals. Kellyn Acosta would be brought into the starting lineup to play at left back and Matt Besler started at center back in the place of John Brooks, who had to withdraw from the team due to a back injury. Fabian Johnson, who has often played left back for the US, was moved up to midfield, with Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya handling central midfield duties. Graham Zusi was also called in to play in the midfield.
The US rout started in the 28th minute when Wood got on the scoreboard. His curled effort from just inside the penalty area calmed their nerves and encouraged them to push for more goals.
Besler would make it 2-0 four minutes later when SVG failed to clear the ball from the area well and the Sporting KC captain pounced on it and put it away with a left-footed strike.
The Americans scored their third goal just before halftime from a penalty when Wood was brought down in the penalty area. Altidore, who was filling in as captain for Bradley, stepped up and smashed it home to give his team an even more comfortable lead.
The second half started a bit rough for the US as the Vincy Heat tried to attack. However, US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann would make the necessary changes to get them back on track as Kljestan came on for Bedoya and Pulisic replaced Johnson.
The changes paid off when Pulisic scored his first goal on the day in the 70th minute. Kljestan, who was making his first appearance for the US since March 2014, spotted Pulisic making a run into the area and passed him the ball for the score.
The Borussia Dortmund wunderkind's goal was a historic one as he became the youngest US national team player to score in World Cup Qualifying.
Kljestan and Pulisic reversed roles eight minutes later as the 17-year-old crossed the ball from the left side of the field for the New York Red Bulls man to score a fifth goal for the US.
The game was already over, but Pulisic added more misery in stoppage time as his shot from outside the area found the back of the net.
A big three points for the US and now they have one foot in the door for the Hex. However, they must get a positive result in their final group game against Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida, as their game against Guatemala ended in a 2-2 tie.
The US remains in second place in the group with 10 points, one behind T&T.
DeAndre Yedlin will miss the United States' game on Tuesday as he must serve a suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards.