The U.S. men’s national team’s back was against the wall in World Cup qualifying, but it entered Friday with a chance to seize control of its own destiny when hosting Panama at Orlando City Stadium in Florida, and it took that opportunity well.
Christian Pulisic scored early and set up Jozy Altidore for another goal, before Altidore capped a dominant first half with a penalty kick to give the USA a 3-0 edge in a must-have match. Bobby Wood’s insurance goal in the second half ensured the three valuable points are heading the USA’s way with a 4-0 victory.
The USA entered the day in fourth place in CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying table, with the top three assured berths in Russia 2018 and fourth place sent to an intercontinental playoff against either Australia or Syria. In order to avoid the latter–or worse, miss out altogether–Bruce Arena’s side had to bounce back at home, where it previously dropped two qualifiers during the Hex.