The U.S. Men’s National Team attacked from the first whistle and utilized a first-half brace from Jozy Altidore as well as well-crafted strikes from Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood to earn a 4-0 win against Panama in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium. With the victory, the USA (3-3-3; 10 pts.) jumps over Panama and into third place in CONCACAF’s Final Round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup heading into its Matchday 10 visit to Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday.
The U.S. signaled its intent five minutes into the match when Altidore’s low cross from the left found Bobby Wood at the penalty spot, before the forward pulled his effort just past the right post.
It took just three more minutes for the U.S. to hit the target, when a goal kick from Tim Howard was headed on by Wood to Altidore. The veteran forward played a simple pass into stride for Pulisic, who breezed through the Panama back line and rounded goalkeeper Jaime Penedo before tucking his shot over the line.
The U.S. doubled its lead in the 19th minute, when Darlington Nagbe lofted a ball to Pulisic in space on the left. Pulisic held up before powering past Michael Murillo and centering a perfect ball for Altidore who tapped home his 40th career goal.
The third goal came just before halftime thanks in large part to the hard work of Wood, who navigated through three Panama defenders before being hauled down by Armando Cooper in the penalty area, forcing referee Roberto Garcia to point to the spot. Altidore calmly lobbed his effort straight down the middle to give the USA a 3-0 lead in 43rd minute.
Wood was rewarded for all his hard work after halftime, when a nice combination with Arriola opened up enough space for the 25-year-old striker to bury his 10th career goal inside the left post in the 63 rd minute.
The U.S. continued to press the attack late and nearly gathered a fifth goal when Arriola broke through on the right, but Penedo came up big once again to push the ball past the right post in the 80th minute.
With the win, the U.S. (3-3-3; 12 pts.) jumps over Panama and into third position in CONCACAF’s Final Round World Cup Qualifying table, where it will almost assuredly stay heading into Tuesday’s Hex finale at Trinidad & Tobago.