Published: Sun, October 08, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

The Birth of an American Soccer Superstar: Christian Pulisic

The Birth of an American Soccer Superstar: Christian Pulisic

The U.S. got its World Cup Qualifying campaign back on track in emphatic fashion, routing Panama, 4-0, at Orlando City Stadium. Instead of running full speed, all of Panama's defenders have gone flat-footed. A disastrous spell at lowly Sunderland that saw him score just one goal in 42 league games, all but destroyed his reputation overseas and he too scuttled back to cash in with MLS. Playing in the biggest game of his young worldwide career, Pulisic chewed up the pressure like a chocolate bar from his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania, and did it with the swagger of a player who absolutely expects to do the magical things he can do at such a young age.

Christian Pulisic, who seemed unstoppable for much of the first half, and Jozy Altidore did most of the heavy lifting, with Altidore scoring two first-half goals while Pulisic scored one and assisted on another.

19-year-old Christian Pulisic celebrates giving his side the lead. This current crop have racked up considerable experience together and know each other's games inside-out.

The U.S. had scored only once in the previous 180 minutes of qualifying. "Our top three attackers all had a good night". The plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.

Looking ahead, the United States' chances of ending up in Russian Federation are far more promising than they were coming out of the September matches.

"Oh, boy. We don't have any time".

"We wanted to press them early and get behind their backline", Arena said.

This was the kind of team effort the USA desperately needed, and the kind we hadn't seen from the Arena's side since the 6-0 thrashing of Honduras back in March. "A lot of guys, some fresh faces, that want to prove they belong on the Trinidad National Team, so for us the job is to go there and from the first minute, make it hard".

As Pulisic continued his star turn, he also got the CONCACAF star treatment.

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The U.S. opened the match with a flourish when Pulisic took a pass from Altidore and circled Jaime Penedo before tucking it inside the far post in the eighth minute. "We've come a long way since November 2016 and in good position to hopefully get the third spot", USA coach Bruce Arena told ESPN.

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

Altidore made it two 11 minutes later when he side-footed home an inviting low cross from Pulisic. "He did what he wanted".

Altidore gave the US its third goal right before half-time from the penalty spot, chipping cheekily past Penedo from 12 yards away after Wood had been hauled down in the area.

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.

'I can't think of a greater resource to have available for us, ' Arena said. With Wolfsburg's John Brooks sidelined with a thigh injury, the US has struggled at center back.

The U.S. responded to the threat of missing World Cup 2018 by unleashing one of its best performances in recent memory on Friday night, thrashing Panama 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier the Americans were desperate to win. Should the game go the USMNT's way, it's business as usual for a program still righting itself after a disruptive start to the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

But the way the USA 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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