The US national team are three points away from booking their place in Russia.
Christian Pulisic scored the opener and set up the second in Orlando, Jozy Altidore hit a brace and Bobby Wood added a later goal as the US cruised to a 4-0 victory over Panama in both teams' penultimate match of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying on Friday night.
In the process, the Americans moved above Panama into third in the Hexagonal standings, meaning another victory next Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago would seal the region's third and final automatic berth for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
A fourth-place finish would see the US thrown into a two-leg, do-or-die playoff against the fifth-place team from the Asian confederation.
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- As World Cup hopes dealt a blow, Panama left to wonder "what happened?"
- The Architect: Arena shows his big game skill again in important win
- 8' - USA - Christian Pulisic Watch
- 19' - USA - Jozy Altidore Watch
- 43' - USA - Jozy Altidore (PK) Watch
- 63' - USA - Bobby Wood Watch
- GOAL ORIENTED: With his goal and assist, Pulisic has now been involved in eight of the US’s 16 goals during the hexagonal phase of qualifying. … Altidore’s brace gives him an all-time US best of 11 goals in the hexagonal across multiple World Cup cycles. He’s the first American to reach double digits. … The US have now outscored their opponents 10-0 its two games following losses in the current hexagonal phase.
- BACK IN THE MIDDLE: After playing him on the right side of midfield in the US’s last two qualifiers, coach Bruce Arena shifted Pulisic back into a central attacking midfield role to start Friday night. The move so flummoxed Panama that, by the 26th minute, coach Hernan Dario Gomez made a tactical sub and switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-1-4-1. Arena's tactics also influenced Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio into a first-half substitution at the Estadio Azteca in June.
- HISTORY (SORTA) REPEATING: For the first time since 1989, the US’s World Cup qualifying hopes come down to the final day of CONCACAF play. And again the Americans will play their final match at Trinidad and Tobago. Unlike qualifying for Italia 90, however, Trinidad and Tobago have been eliminated from contention, while there are also alternative ways the US could qualify without a victory in Couva.
They Said It
Crowd here in Orlando was simply amazing. Couldn’t have asked for a better showing with this magnitude of a situation. Good on you Orlando!!— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) October 7, 2017
- USA: Tuesday, October 10 at Trinidad and Tobago (8 pm ET | beIN Sports, NBC Universo)
- PAN: Tuesday, October 10 vs. Costa Rica (8 pm ET)