KENYA BROWN - Monday, October 9, 2017
The United States is within reach of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup after earning a big win over Panama on Friday in Orlando, Florida.
With only two games left in CONCACAF qualifying for next year's tournament, the team has found themselves in a do-or-die situation with Panama and Honduras also battling to claim the third automatic spot. Finishing fourth would put either team in a tricky playoff against the Asian qualifier which could be either Australia or Syria.
The US had to play with a sense of urgency and they did just that the minute they stepped on the field at Orlando Stadium. There could be some fault put towards the Panamanian side as they started out with a 4-4-2 formation and looked to play a wide open game that hurt them in the end.
Christian Pulisic got things going for the host in the eighth minute when Tim Howard's goal kick found Bobby Wood, who headed towards the midfield. The ball would then go to Jozy Altidore who then sent towards Pulisic. The attacker turned on the jets and got past Roman Torres before rounding by goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and putting the ball into the goal from a sharp angle.
It was then Pulisic's turn to become provider as he set up Altidore for the team's second goal in the 19th minute. Darlington Nagbe sent the ball into the path of the Borussia Dortmund player and he glided down the left side before centering a pass to the Altidore in the area. All that was left for the forward to do was to tap it in from close range.
The US attack was on top of its game and found a third goal just before halftime. Wood's run into the area with the ball saw him brought down by Armando Cooper. This gave Altidore the chance to score his second from the penalty spot and he did so with a "Panenka".
Wood finally got his goal in the 63rd minute to round out the scoring for the US when he took a pass from Paul Arriola, turned and fired his shot past Penedo.
It was an all-around excellent performance from the attack while there will be some questions still out there about whether the US can overcome their problems defensively as they did allow Panama a few chances to get back into the game.
Now, the team will look to book their place in Russia 2018 when they head down to Trinidad and Tobago to face the Soca Warriors.