Just 11 minutes after that he switched roles with Jozy Altidore, turning into the provider. It was Altidore whose pass sprung Pulisic on the opener, and it was Altidore's well-timed run that put him in place to finish off Pulisic's inch-perfect cross soon after. I think the spacing was pretty good for most of the night. Pulisic opened the scoring inside of eight minutes while Bobby Wood closed the account in the 63rd minute. Paul Arriola was especially effective on the night playing on the right wing, where presumably Fabian Johnson would have played if Bruce Arena hadn't chosen to leave him out.
The U.S. came out with an aggressive posture, both in terms of personnel and its approach in attacking the visitors. "Ultimately, we've played 15 games in qualifying and now we've got a chance in 90 minutes in Trinidad to finish the job and make sure we're on the plane to Russian Federation. It was a really good team performance".
"I was very confident in this group".
Los Canaleros have a large contingent who play in Major League Soccer, and they will not fear the passion of the crowd as they protect their goal.
"Oh, boy. We don't have any time".
"He was able to just disrupt them in so many ways, and you saw the difference he can make in the middle of the park, being able to go each way and just being so dynamic", Altidore said.
"We faced a team that was immensely better than us". On Sunday, Pulisic was the subject of a "60 Minutes" special, in which Arena said that Pulisic had the potential to become "the first American superstar in the sport". So I think we're moving along well. "Now we have to finish it off on Tuesday in Trinidad".
And with that, the exact type of win the USA needed, one that results in three points and a massive amount of momentum.
The U.S. had scored only once in the previous 180 minutes of qualifying.More news: Catalonia independence referendum: 'NO violence' Voters warned to behave
Wood, who along with Arriola brought plenty of energy and pace to the side, earned the third goal with a brilliant turn and run into the box, where he was brought down for a USA penalty shot.
Pulisic has been hailed as the next leading figure for the country's national team, despite being just 19-years-old.
Three of the last four USA-Panama matches have ended in a draw with another 2015 match requiring penalty kicks to decide the victor. 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.
"It was a bad night", Gomez said. "He did what he wanted". And wasn't it refreshing to see the US score early and then continue to drop the hammer instead of letting the opponent back in the game?
Pulisic sprinted toward the corner flag and slid on his knees in celebration, then got to his feet, tugged at his jersey with the United States emblem, and stomped toward the exultant fans, as if to taunt anyone who had the temerity to doubt this team, or him.
"I've never built a team around one player", said Arena. "He's a good player, but for Christian to be more effective he needs to have good players around him". (On Friday night it was Arriola, but will that be true every night?) Are we sure Wood can't play out wide? "You needed stars to show up, and the U.S.'s biggest star showed up and scored the first, created the second".
Panama, meantime, was poised to move to the brink of its first World Cup berth after US -inflicted heartbreak four years ago.
In the days before the U.S.'s tension-soothing 4-0 World Cup qualifying blowout of Panama on Friday, the players went through what Jozy Altidore called some of the most detailed preparations he had ever encountered in his national team career to ready a gameplan that would attack Panama mercilessly from the opening whistle.