Thursday’s FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago wasn’t technically a must-win for the U.S. men’s soccer team.
With a highly anticipated match against Mexico at Estadio Azteca coming up on Sunday, however, the U.S. team needed to take advantage of the chance to collect three points at DICK’S Sports Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
Rising superstar Christian Pulisic, 18, made sure that happened when he scored two goals 10 minutes apart to give the Americans a 2-0 victory.
Scoreless at halftime, the U.S. team came out strong in the second. In the 52nd minute, the Americans forced a turnover and Darlington Nagbe ran the ball up the right side of the field, where he found DeAndre Yedlin, who had followed him in. Yedlin then chipped the ball toward the box, where Pulisic slid past the outstretched hands of keeper Jan Michael Williams to drive in the first goal of the game and give the United States a 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Pulisic brought the ball up the middle of the field and passed off to Yedlin on the right. Yedlin sent as pass to Jozy Altidore, who redirected it quickly up to a charging Pulisic. Without breaking stride, Pulisic drove to the net and beat Williams for the second time.
Pulisic now has scored four goals in his last four games and has seven goals and five assists in 15 games with the national team. He was named player of the game.
Thursday’s match was the halfway mark in the final round of qualifying. The United States entered the match in fourth place but moved up to third with the victory (2-2-1, 7 points). Trinidad and Tobago remains in last place out of the six teams in the hexagonal standings (1-4-0, 3 points). Mexico led the group and was undefeated at 3-0-1 with 10 points going into its game against Honduras Thursday night.