Thanks to the stylish efforts of their attack hydra, the US national team easily got their backs away from the World Cup qualifying wall with a convincing 4-0 rout of Panama in Orlando on Friday night.
Jozy Altidore, Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood got the home side off to a racing start and would eventually provide all the goals needed to lift the Nats into prime position for another World Cup ticket.
Tim Howard (6.5): The US netminder was rarely tested, but he comfortably made an important first-half save. Howard also completed a handful of long boots, including one that led to the opener.
DeAndre Yedlin (7): The Newcastle right back made the biggest defensive play of the night when he raced over to wipe out an Alberto Quintero penalty area chance near the half-hour mark. Yedlin didn't threaten much on the overlap, but he ably supported possession when called upon.
Omar Gonzalez (6.5): Gonzo was turned early, but was solid defensively the rest of the way. The defender also played some smart passes to ignite the break.
Matt Besler (6.5): Though sent scrambling by pace in space on a couple of occasions, Besler effectively shut down Panama's crossing game. Like his partner, the Sporting Kansas City man offered some incisive passes into attack.
Jorge Villafana (6.5): The Santos Laguna left back played conservatively on the ball, but smothered most of the Panama attackers that ventured into his corner.
Michael Bradley (6): Guilty of a couple of cheap giveaways in the opening frame, the skipper kept it safer after intermission. Bradley covered a lot of ground defensively until the subs gave him some late help.
Paul Arriola (7): The D.C. United winger was ever eager to provide pressure valve work and turn these moves into counterattacks. He eventually picked up a smart assist to go with his eight total defensive stops.
Darlington Nagbe (5.5): It was a somewhat vanilla outing for Nagbe, even if he completed 22 straight passes after committing a weak early turnover in central midfield. The Portland Timbers midfielder definitely could have offered more defensive resistance.
Christian Pulisic (8.5): The Borussia Dortmund phenom's fancy feet were in full effect. Pulisic's technical skills were key on both his icebreaker and the set-up for Altidore's first. He also beat five defenders on the dribble in the opening 25 minutes, setting the tone for this important romp.
Bobby Wood (8): The Hamburg ace's movement on and off the ball thoroughly unsettled Panama's defensive set-up. Wood's insistent dribbling earned the US a spot kick, and after a couple of missed chances he chalked up a deserved goal with a splendid turn-and-finish in the box.
Jozy Altidore (8.5): The team's cobra head was in a strike pose from the onset. Altidore repeatedly plowed the road forward with his link touches, most notably on Pulisic's quick opener. The Toronto FC star then got to the end of some moves to bag a double.
Coach Bruce Arena (7.5): The boss took a tactical gamble and it paid off big time. While the US were worryingly stretched at the back a few times, they never broke and the team's aggressive game plan lit up the scoreboard early and often.
Dax McCarty (7): The 57th minute sub put in one of his most assured US performances. McCarty moved the ball shrewdly and offered Bradley some needed help guarding the gate.
Alejandro Bedoya (--): Just a few touches in a late cameo.