The Associated PressORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Christian Pulisic burst up the field, scoring with a brilliant touch to complete an 11-second, breakneck, field-length attack just 8 minutes in.
Then his cross found Jozy Altidore’s right foot like an arrow striking a bull’s-eye , leading to a two-goal lead in the 19th minute.
Altidore converted a penalty kick with a chip in the 43rd after Bobby Wood was fouled, Wood added a goal in the 63rd and the United States routed Panama 4-0 on Friday night to put the Americans back on track to reach next year’s World Cup.
“We needed a win, but the job’s not done,” Pulisic said.
The U.S. ended a three-match winless streak in qualifying and with 12 points moved two ahead of Panama into third place — the last automatic berth — in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Honduras has nine points going into its match Saturday at Costa Rica, which is second with 15.
Goal difference means the Americans put themselves in great shape to reach an eighth straight World Cup, almost certainly with a win Tuesday in their finale at already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago and likely with a draw against the Soca Warriors if Honduras fails to win Saturday. The U.S. is plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.
“We’re well positioned to hopefully qualify for Russia. The game in Trinidad is not going to be an easy one,” coach Bruce Arena said.