The U.S. men’s soccer team played Venezuela in a final tune up before two big World Cup qualifiers this week and walked away with a 1-1 tie on a second-half equalizing goal by 18-year-old Christian Pulisic on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
In 14 appearances with the national team, Pulisic now has five goals, and his performance likely made an impression that will earn him a spot in the lineup when the United States takes on Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico this week.
The U.S. team will host Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, and travel to Mexico City for a match on June 11. The games are the fifth and sixth of 10 in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The top three teams from the confederation — which includes North America, Central America and the Caribbean — qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The United States is currently in fourth place, which would mean having to play a two-game playoff for a spot in Russia.
Saturday’s friendly was a chance for some final preparation in advance of the two important games.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard, a 2000 Olympian, made a number of diving stops, including one in the 33rd minute and another in the 34th, that kept Venezuela from expanding on its early lead and allowed the Americans to even the score.
Pulisic scored in the 61st minute after taking a pass from Fabian Johnson, cutting left then sending a shot past Venezuela keeper Jose Contreras. Johnson’s assist was the 11th of his international career.
The Americans played without 2008 Olympian Jozy Altidore, upon whom they rely heavily on the attack, because of family reasons, but he is expected to play this week.