Sport

Pulisic central midfield vs Panama; Besler, Gonzalez in back

"I suspect they are going to be a handful", said Arena. This time we gave them space and that was the error. "I thought the three of them did a really good job". So I think we're moving along well.

Then in the 19th minute, Pulisic got the ball along the left side and drew the attention of Panama's defenders, then found Altidore alone and perfectly positioned for a pass. Altidore's goal made it 2-0, and then he scored again on a penalty, chipping the ball up and into the top of the net, to make it 3-0 in the 43rd minute. The U.S.is 5-0-2 against Panama in World Cup qualifiers, including a 3-0-0 record in matches played in the U.S.

The U.S. enters the game needing victories in both of its final two games of qualifying to assure itself of berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Playing before a rain-splattered sellout crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium, Pulisic, Altidore and Bobby Wood carved up Panama from the start, opening huge holes in its defense and going in front to stay in the eighth minute on a spectacular goal from Pulisic.

Wood's shot from inside the box missed the goal by about five feet.

Picking up the ball on the left wing, Pulisic delivered a superb cross which was gleefully tapped in by Altidore.

"They smelled blood from the beginning", US goalkeeper Tim Howard said. They clearly recognized that from the beginning. And if Altidore can play like that should the USA make it to Russian Federation, their attack will have a dimension it certainly didn't have in Brazil, and flickered from then until now. "We stuck to the gameplan". The coaching staff from Sunday since the guys landed was showing video, pulling guys aside, making sure we were prepared for this game ... For a team that everyone expected to come out and defend for their lives, they went to the other end of the spectrum, and set themselves up for failure. He will always be the center of attention no matter where he plays, but out wide, it may be easier for fullbacks and wide players to mark him out of the game. Such a young kid, and he gets it.

See how to watch Friday's game below.

Wood drew the penalty kick after he exchanged passes with Paul Arriola along a flank, broke past Felipe Baloy, spurted diagonally into the penalty area and was pushed down by Armando Cooper.

The U.S. didn't get out of the game unscathed, however, with Pulisic limping off the field briefly early in the second half after a strong tackle by Anibal Godoy. "He's a great guy to play with".

The U.S. team consists of 17 players who play in Major League Soccer, three each in England and Mexico and two in Germany.

"He was kicked a few times", Arena said.

"We needed a win, but the job's not done", Pulisic said.

A tie or loss against Panama could mean the USA would need help Tuesday when qualifying concludes.

"We are well placed to hopefully get to Russian Federation [after that]", Arena said afterwards. We faced challenging conditions in Honduras and Panama so we will be ready. So we feel good about that.



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