Bruce Arena couldn’t have dreamt a better start to Friday night’s must-win 2018 World Cup qualifier against Panama.
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Christian Pulisic, the wonderboy he is, put Arena’s U.S. national team 1-0 ahead after just eight minutes (assisted by Jozy Altidore — WATCH HERE). 11 minutes later, the scorer became assister, and the assister became scorer. The result is a commanding 2-0 lead for the USMNT, and third-place standing with only 135 minutes of the Hexagonal still to play.
There was nothing complicated or flashy about this one: Pulisic, who drifts from sideline to sideline for the Yanks, found himself with the ball on the left, running one-on-one at defender Michael Murillo. After creating a half-yard of space for himself, Pulisic delivered a tasty ball to the top of the six-yard box where Altidore was waiting to apply the simplest of finishes.
Not long before halftime, Altidore scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-0. Bobby Wood won the spot kick when he was dragged down inside the box in the 42nd minute. Altidore, with the Panenka, capped a rousing first-half performance in serious style.