Bruce Arena sounds rally cry ahead of USA's crucial qualifiers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pulisic has scored or created nine of the 12 US goals during the final round of World Cup qualifying so clearly is the American player to watch against Panama, the nation lying directly ahead of the fourth-place Americans in the Hexagonal. In the first meaningful event of the USMNT's match against Panama, he picked up the ball 35 yards from goal, turned around, dribbled past three Panamanians, sprinted towards the top of the box, and passed to a wide-open Jozy Altidore.

The United States Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) may be 32 places higher than Panama in the Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings, but that will count for nothing on Friday night. Just over a month ago, the United States suffered an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Costa Rica, at Red Bull Arena, in New Jersey.

The US has an attacking edge as Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic and Hamburg's Bobby Wood will be bringing their Bundesliga experience.

Christian Pulisic, the 19-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania, who is a rising star with Germany's Borussia Dortmund, helped energize the US when he was shifted to central midfield from the flanks.

"On the night, we actually didn't finish well", he said. After that display, the players and fans should feel great about their chances. Los Canaleros desperately want to make the World Cup for the first time ever.

It was a banner night for the Americans, who jumped out to an early lead in front of the sold-out crowd of 25,303. The opening score came when he collected an Altidore pass and charged goalwards, rounded Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and slotted the ball home from a tight angle. We should be competing with Mexico for the confederation's number one spot every four years, and instead this team is competing with Honduras to avoid staying home.

For his part, Pulisic said he would be fine for Tuesday's game.

That contest drew extra attention for being the first national team game after the September 11, 200,1 terrorist attacks. It shows a lot about his qualities as a player, and what he's doing is fantastic.

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The defensive side includes Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar, both of them play in the MLS and can be helpful in decoding the United States team which includes 18 of 26 MLS players. Panama worked the ball well from left to right before Gabriel Torres rifled a shot that the veteran netminder pushed away.

Altidore added a third goal, on a penalty kick, just before halftime.

"Clearly, the third goal was a tough one for them", said Arena. While El Tri dominated the contest, it was T&T who took the lead midway through the second half through Mexico-based winger Shahdon Winchester.

Panama hasn't forgotten about that night.

That opened the door for Pulisic's victor a minute later, and the Americans just rolled from there.

"This team is very dedicated", winger Hirving Lozano said. Three points or less won't be enough to overtake the United States of America, given the USA's huge edge in goal difference. "We have had a great year despite what people think". Panama had allowed five goals in eight previous World Cup qualifiers before shipping four against the US and now will simply hope to hold on to the fourth spot, which will play either Australia or Syria in an intercontinental playoff to go to Russian Federation.

The past four meetings between the two nations ended 1-1 after match-ups in qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup but United States was in complete control from the outset as Panama was camped in its own half early in Orlando.

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