With Christian Pulisic Driving, United States Steers Closer to World Cup

The USA has faced big games in World Cup qualifying before. The USA had dropped three games in a row to fall into fourth place.

Twenty-eight years ago, the Americans defeated Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 to book their place at the 1990 World Cup - the country's first appearance at football's biggest tournament since 1950.

Friday night's contest against Panama is absolutely huge regarding whether or not the team gets in. The Americans were able to avoid the discipline report and will have all of their players available for their final World Cup qualifier on Tuesday. A disastrous spell at lowly Sunderland that saw him score just one goal in 42 league games, all but destroyed his reputation overseas and he too scuttled back to cash in with MLS. "They could have had 10 goals", he said in declaring the Americans "immensely superior" in every way in the match, and his team's play as "muy, muy mal" - very, very bad.

"The point in Honduras obviously made all the difference in terms of us now controlling our own destiny going into these last two games", USMNT player Tim Howard said.

That's easier said than done. Pulisic is the most talented attacking midfielder on the USA roster, and the Americans will need his skills, vision and ability to power through the lines to get the better of the disciplined, though somewhat unathletic, Panama defense.

"Jozy just laid it off to me and then I was just gone, I guess, that was it". Wood, whose late equalizer in Honduras last month saved the team from an even more nervous plight, won the penalty for the third goal, then smashed home the fourth with effortless composure.

The U.S. predictably slowed the pace of play after halftime in order to protect the lead. So far, Mexico is the only team in the hex to have clinched a spot for 2018.

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"People can come in and say it's just another game, but the reality is it's not just another game", winger Paul Arriola said. We could've scored a lot more goals. "We want to start really strong". In replacing Jurgen Klinsmann, Arena restored stability through the spring and summer but, with an opportunity to create distance in the race for the region's three automatic berths, the Americans stumbled last month. Winning on the road in CONCACAF is always a challenge, however, so there's work to do Tuesday against Trinidad and Tobago.

"They [Trinidad] can play relaxed or very aggressive".

Honduras (2-2-3) also remains in the running despite a awful goal differential, the first tiebreaker.

Bradley pointed out that the United States of America used three in the back a lot differently against Mexico - when it was set up to contain El Tri and counter - than at Honduras - where the U.S. needed a tying goal.

A large portion of Panama's fate in the qualifying will depend on how they fare in their match against the United States at Orlando which begins in a matter of hours.

"I can't think of a greater resource to have available", Arena said of his former assistant at the University of Virginia and D.C. United.


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