Christian Pulisic scores, assists in U.S. vs. Panama WCQ

Arena at the 2006 World Cup

Arena at the 2006 World Cup

His eighth-minute goal was a masterclass of skill, athleticism and speed of thought.

They had a good chance to make it to the last World Cup, needing a win in the final game against the U.S., which had already qualified and sent a second choice team. Darlington Nagbe was his usual confident self on the ball working the left wing, and while he had the quietest night among the US attackers, he still provided a calming presences when needed. Jozy Altidore had two goals and an assist while Bobby Wood also got his name on the score sheet in a flawless result for the USMNT, which earned just its third win in its last nine qualifiers. If Pulisic is world-class, why do the U.S. However after they started the final round of World Cup qualifying, the hex, with losses at home to Mexico and at Costa Rica, they fired their coach.

Pulisic has been hailed as the next leading figure for the country's national team, despite being just 19-years-old.

"Those guys are great players so it's not hard to play with great players", Pulisic said. Wood won the header near midfield, directing the ball ahead to Altidore.

Panama enjoyed some more time on the ball but it left them exposed at the back as the American side was presented with plenty of space, and Altidore wasted the chance to net his second after shooting straight at Penedo.

From there, it was pure individual brilliance from the teenager.

Pulisic, just 19 but already the team's most exciting and accomplished player, eased USA nerves with a rapid burst forward followed by a clinical finish in the eighth minute, then set up Altidore for the second 11 minutes later. He substituted for Pulisic a few minutes later. A bit of cheeky footwork played him around the defender and put him in great position for a cross.

If Pulisic keeps playing as he has, if Altidore is incisive, if players like DeAndre Yedlin and Arriola churn with ferocity and drive, then maybe - just maybe - this entire World Cup cycle might turn out the way everyone hoped.

Don't let the scoreline trick you into thinking it was all roses for the USMNT in this win.

In the second half Panama came out with renewed vigor and a new goal: beat the living tar out of Christian Pulisic. Panama looked unsafe on the left.

The attacking three - supported on the flanks by Darlington Nagbe and Paul Arriola - ran between and behind the Panama back line, for which veteran and captain Felipe Baloy was especially shaky, to strike twice within the 20 minutes. Jozy had two goals, Bobby one and Christian one. "We could really, really complicate ourselves if we don't get three points this next game against Panama". With the ball on the right flank, Wood beasted his way past a trio of defenders and into the box, where he was fouled and drew a penalty kick. He missed a couple of chances he should have buried with nothing between the goal except him and the keeper.

'It's to be expected in CONCACAF, ' Pulisic said.

"I think in Game 10, when you're playing a team that is eliminated, they can play relaxed, they can play very aggressive, they can care less if they have a player who is sent off and all those things".

He's the second coming of Landon Donovan - whose blend of energy, creativity and finishing helped transform the national team 16 years ago - and likely destined to be much better. 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.

The U.S.is in a good position now, back in the top three spots in the Hex, which are the automatic qualifying spots. However, the US would still have to take care of business against Trinidad and Tobago.

He put the USMNT up 1-0 five minutes later with this goal, in which he almost breaks the sound barrier by scampering past four defenders faster than can be easily comprehended on first viewing, then rounds the keeper and scores.

The Panamanians responded with good spells of possession after going down 2-0, and forced USA goalkeeper Tim Howard into action for the first time on the night at the half-hour mark. Less than a victory against the Panamanians could lead to either a playoff next month or elimination. All that, of course, will be avoided with a simple victory in Trinidad.

"He's our wonder boy", Howard said of Pulisic.

Bruce Arena's big gamble paid off.

The USMNT takes on Panama tonight on ESPN 2 in a pivotal World Cup qualifying match.

The U.S. had scored only once in the previous 180 minutes of qualifying.

The days of taking about his potential are done.

Bradley became the first American manager in England's Premier League and has been hired to lead Los Angeles' Major League Soccer expansion team that will start to play competitively next year.

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