Spain makes it to World Cup; Serbia unable to clinch a spot

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orozco has not played for the US since the 2-1 home loss to Mexico in the opener of the final round of qualifying last November.

It was Pulisic who set the tone early, going right at Panama's normally stingy defense from the start, with his speed and confident dribbling tearing through opposing defenders easily.

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.

The game kicks off Friday night at 7:35 Eastern time and is being televised on ESPN2 and Univision Deportes. The cherry on top - an Altidore penalty kick, on a nervy chip after Bobby Wood had been cut down on a run into the area in the 42nd minute - erased all doubt. A loss or draw would leave the team's fate dependent on other results. Darlington Nagbe was his usual confident self on the ball working the left wing, and while he had the quietest night among the USA attackers, he still provided a calming presences when needed.

Altidore earned Man of the Match honors on a night where everyone in the attack played well.

If the US lost to Trinidad & Tobago, it would still have a shot at finishing third ahead of Panama and Honduras.

The United States should have scored more but profligate finishing and a fine performance from Penedo kept the score down.

"Oh, boy. We don't have any time". "I was able to play off those guys, they had some great layoffs to me".

It's do or die for the US men's soccer team.

Pulisic acknowledged the beating, a fact of his life that has become common in games against Concacaf opposition, and shrugged it off.

"It was exactly what I expected", USA captain Michael Bradley said, "and now we've got to make sure that in a few days' time were ready to go to Trinidad and after 15 games of qualifying make sure that we finish things off in the right way".




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

The U.S. was in such control that Arena pulled off Pulisic in the 57th minute, resting him for Tuesday.

It took only eight minutes for Pulisic to make his mark on the game and finish a wonderful bit of long play started by Tim Howard in goal.

"There really isn't much of a difference, which is part of why we have hard decisions to make", goalkeepers coach Matt Reis said. "He did what he wanted". In many ways the 19-year-old Pulisic is Altidore's most natural partner on the roster, certainly the closest thing the USA has to his club running mate Giovinco.

Midfielder Gabriel Gómez: Still going strong at age 33, the former Union player could make his 135th appearance for the national team in this game.

"It's a big occasion", Arena said of the match at hand.

The most important thing for the U.S.to do is win on Friday.

One more win would clinch a World Cup place for the United States after Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic spearheaded a vital 4-0 victory over Panama at Orlando City Stadium on Friday night.

Arena brought in defender Michael Orozco and midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Juan Agudelo for Friday's game against Panama at Orlando, Florida, and the qualifying finale four days later at Trinidad.

But the way the US played, the way the attack thrummed, the defense steadied and the ball was pinged around with pace, speed and urgency made it possible to see the promise of something better.

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