- Altidore scores two
- U.S. leads 3-0 at half
- Pulisic goal, assist
- U.S. moves third
- Heads to T&T for Tues. finale
Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore spearheaded the United States men’s national team to an emphatic 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Panama at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Friday.
Altidore scored twice, Pulisic had a goal and an assist, and Bobby Wood also scored in the win.
The win moves the U.S. to the precipice of qualifying for Russia. A win at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday will clinch it, and a draw could do the trick depending on the Honduras-Costa Rica result on Saturday (The match was postponed due to weather).
Christian Pulisic, to no one’s surprise, supplied the first true threat with a dynamic dribble and pass to set up Jozy Altidore for a shot blocked inside the 18.
Bobby Wood was the next to tempt an opener, firing just wide from a Jozy Altidore pass.
Panama, however, engineered a big scare when Blas Perez worked Omar Gonzalez before ripping a shot wide.
Fortunately, that’s when Pulisic settled the nerves with an eighth minute goal, dancing onto a Altidore pass and playing Jaime Penedo like a fiddle before sliding a goal home from an acute angle. Wood started the play, and it was 1-0.
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Pulisic then earned a corner. Anibal Godoy bloodied Matt Besler with an elbow before the attempt. When it was served, Altidore hit a shot off the outside of the goal.
Then, Altidore and 2-0. It came, no surprise, off the boot of a Pulisic cross from the left. It was a sensational pass that swept around the backs and onto Altidore’s back post boot.
Paul Arriola cued Bobby Wood up for a long run on goal that was ended when Penedo stopped the Hamburg man’s shot.
Matt Besler was caught twice in a five-minute span, the second requiring an two handed save from Tim Howard.
Altidore should’ve made it 3-0 on the business end of a well-worked rush, but had his head down and didn’t see Penedo racing out to thwart his shot.
Wood then won — and aided — a penalty when fouled by Armando Cooper. In this giant spot, Altidore had the audacity to chip a panenka past a flying Penedo.
Panama’s second half philosophy was to batter Pulisic, and a distracted U.S. allowed some more chances to Los Canaleros. That includes Tim Howard’s stooping to collect a Roman Torres shot.
Pulisic left the match, healthy, for Dax McCarty, giving the youngster relief and the veteran his first appearance in a World Cup qualifier.
Arriola then threatened Penedo with a low shot in the 59th minute. Then Panama allowed Wood to dance through its defense and rip a shot that sailed wide in the 62nd minute.
Wood made it 4-0 in the 63rd minute, turning a quick pass from Arriola and clinically finishing past Penedo.
Penedo stopped Arriola after a delightful pass from McCarty — and a fortuitous trip from a Panama center back.