Watch: Pulisic scores two for USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago in World Cup qualifying win
The U.S. men's national team steadied its World Cup qualifying run in March with a four-point haul, and it pad that total Thursday night against Trinidad & Tobago thanks to the heroics of Christian Pulisic.
Pulisic scored twice within a 10-minute span in the second half to alleviate some nerves and pressure and deliver a 2-0 win over the Soca Warriors at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. The three points are massive for the Americans, who face Mexico at the vaunted Estadio Azteca on Sunday night.
It was Michael Bradley who had the USA's first half-chance at goal, lofting a 20-yard attempt toward the far post after Darlington Nagbe did some nice 1-v-1 work in the right channel in the third minute. The sequence came after Pulisic was yanked down in the center circle, subjected to more physical play as he was in Panama in the most recent qualifier.
Trinidad & Tobago enjoyed its own speculative attempt in the 10th minute, with Seattle Sounders fullback Joevin Jones hitting a tight-angled cross on target, but it was easily handled by Tim Howard in goal.
Clint Dempsey came inches from tying Landon Donovan's all-time USMNT goal record (57) in the 15th minute, with Fabian Johnson setting him up for a long-range hit with a layoff pass. The Texan wound up and put a left-footer just high of the mark, keeping it 0-0.
John Brooks and Jozy Altidore forced consecutive saves from Jan-Michael Williams in the 25th minute as the USA started to find its footing. First, Brooks found time and space to fire away from 25 yards. Moments later, Altidore was set up by Jorge Villafaña, whose cutback cross allowed the Toronto FC star to have a clear look from 18 yards, only for him to strike it right at Williams.
A minute later, it was Pulisic's turn, as he took a pass from Altidore and sprinted 30 yards upfield before putting his left-footed chance on the break high of the post.
On the other end, Khaleem Hyland found space to strike a low blast at Howard, who dove to his left and watched it scream by his post.
The U.S. was given the gift of the crossbar in the 33rd minute, after Kenwyne Jones beat John Brooks and then was first to a lofted ball as Howard came off his line, but the Atlanta United forward and former Premier League veteran put his header off the bar.
The U.S. responded with a pair of chances on the other end. First, Villafaña took a long-range strike that Williams parried away acrobatically. Dempsey hustled to keep the ball alive for the U.S., and the sequence led to Altidore getting a clear header on frame, only for Williams to swat it over the bar.
Moments later, Altidore had another chance off a header as he strode toward goal, but he put his chance high.
Howard was forced into another save off a Hyland blast in the 42nd minute, with a low chance through traffic requiring a diving save.
The USA finally broke through in the 52nd minute, with Pulisic doing the honors yet again. The 18-year-old scored the sixth goal of his international career, sliding home a cross from DeAndre Yedlin. The sequence started after Bradley forced a turnover, and Yedlin played Nagbe forward. The Portland Timbers star worked his way forward and played a combination with Dempsey before laying it off for Yedlin, who supplied the final ball.
Pulisic made it 2-0 10 minutes later, with a powerful finish from the right channel. Altidore played Pulisic through with a pinpoint ball, and the Dortmund rising star did the rest to ease any lingering nerves over the USA's performance.
Bobby Wood nearly extended it to 3-0 in the 84th minute. Just on as a substitute for Altidore, Wood lined up a chance from 18 yards but struck the left post.
Here are the rosters for both sides:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
GOALKEEPERS: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic Centre FC), Jan-Michael Williams (North East Stars)
DEFENDERS: Radanfah Abu Bakr (FK Sūduva Marijampolė), Sheldon Bateau (Krylia Sovetov Samara), Daneil Cyrus (Unattached), Aubrey David (PS Kemi Kings), Carlos Edwards (Central FC), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Alvin Jones (W Connection), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids)
MIDFIELDERS: Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders FC), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United FC) Leston Paul (North East Stars)
FORWARDS: Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC), Jamille Boatswain (Defence Force), Kenwyne Jones (Atlanta United FC)