Los Angeles (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic scored twice as the United States grabbed a vital 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign on Thursday.
Bundesliga-based Pulisic slid home a close-range finish from DeAndre Yedlin’s low cross in the 52nd minute to give the Americans the lead in their CONCACAF zone qualifying battle.
The teenage starlet then bagged his seventh goal in only his 15th international appearance to make it 2-0 after 62 minutes, latching on to Jozy Altidore’s perfect through ball before whipping a low finish in at the near post.
Pulisic’s goals settled a tense duel in the thin air of Commerce City’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, just outside Denver, Colorado.
“It took us a little while to get going,” Pulisic said. “We had some chances in the first half and couldn’t put them away. But once we wore them down our quality started to come out and we showed them in the end. It was a good game.”
The win lifted the USA into the automatic qualifying positions with seven points from five games and gives Bruce Arena’s side a boost as they prepare for a daunting away assignment against leaders Mexico on Sunday. Mexico stretched their lead at the top of the standings to five points on Thursday with a comfortable 3-0 win over Honduras in Mexico City.
– Out for revenge –
“It’s going to be a tough one down there definitely but we really want revenge on them for when they got us earlier in the campaign,” Pulisic said, referring to Mexico’s 2-1 win over the USA in Columbus last November. “We’re really confident going into that game and we’ll come out with a win there too.”
Pulisic’s double settled American nerves after a jittery opening 45 minutes which saw the hosts struggle to break down a disciplined Trinidad & Tobago, who remain bottom of the six-team standings after the defeat.
US striker Clint Dempsey went close with a curling shot which shaved the crossbar after 15 minutes while John Brooks saw a long-range effort parried away by Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams 10 minutes later.
Williams thwarted the Americans once more soon afterwards, parrying Altidore’s strike after Jorge Villafana’s cutback.
The USA survived a scare in the 33rd minute when Khaleem Hyland chipped into the penalty area to find striker Kenwyne Jones. US goalkeeper Tim Howard was caught out of position but Jones could only direct his header against the woodwork.