Christian Pulisic hit a hat-trick as the United States beat Panama 5-1 on Sunday in all but defended their place in the 2022 World Cup.
Although I have not yet officially confirmed a place in Qatar, a six-goal one-week win over Costa Rica could prevent Gregg Berhalter’s side from returning to the tournament after missing four years ago.
Costa Rica’s 2-1 win over El Salvador earlier in the day meant the USA could not join Canada in making sure it qualified, despite continuing its career in Orlando.
Pulisic opened the scoring in the 17th minute on the field after Anibal Godoy was penalized for an altercation with Walker Zimmerman, and shortly thereafter it was 2-0 as Paul Arriola beat Antonee Robinson.
Jesus Ferreira made it 3-0 just half an hour after the finish and Pulisic confirmed they were going into the break due to his second penalty of the day – Godoy once again being the guilty team, harassing Miles Robinson.
Pulisic completed his hat-trick in style with 65 minutes played, producing a good touch to turn and turn, although Godoy’s late comfort prevented Zack Steffen from keeping the sheet clean.
The USA needs just one point on Wednesday to ensure they will be in the World Cup qualifiers on Friday, although they could actually lose 5-0 to fourth-placed Costa Rica and be able to continue due to their huge goal difference.