Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic scored twice as the United States grabbed a vital 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Bundesliga-based Pulisic slid home a close-range finish from DeAndre Yedlin’s low cross in the 52nd minute on Thursday to give the Americans the lead in their CONCACAF zone qualifying battle.
The teenage starlet then bagged his seventh goal in only his 15th international appearance to make it 2-0 after 62 minutes, latching on to Jozy Altidore’s perfect through ball before whipping a low finish in at the near post.
Pulisic’s goals settled a tense duel in the thin air of Commerce City’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, just outside Denver, Colorado.
“It took us a little while to get going,” Pulisic said. “We had some chances in the first half and couldn’t put them away. But once we wore them down our quality started to come out and we showed them in the end. It was a good game.”
The win lifted the USA into the automatic qualifying positions with seven points from five games and gives Bruce Arena’s side a boost as they prepare for a daunting away assignment against Mexico on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a tough one down there definitely but we really want revenge on them for when they got us earlier in the campaign,” Pulisic said, referring to Mexico’s 2-1 win over the USA in Columbus last November. “We’re really confident going into that game and we’ll come out with a win there too.”
Pulisic’s double settled American nerves after a jittery opening 45 minutes which saw the hosts struggle to break down a disciplined Trinidad & Tobago, who remain bottom of the six-team standings after the defeat.
US striker Clint Dempsey went close with a curling shot which shaved the crossbar after 15 minutes while John Brooks saw a long-range effort parried away by Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams 10 minutes later.
Williams thwarted the Americans once more soon afterwards, parrying Altidore’s strike after Jorge Villafana’s cutback.
The USA survived a scare in the 33rd minute when Khaleem Hyland chipped into the penalty area to find striker Kenwyne Jones.
US goalkeeper Tim Howard was caught out of position but Jones could only direct his header against the woodwork.
Altidore saw another header saved but the two sides went in at half-time with the score locked at 0-0.
Pulisic’s opening goal was almost cancelled out by Trinidad immediately, but Nathan Lewis’s neat finish into the bottom corner was judged fractionally offside.
In other CONCACAF games on Thursday, 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists Costa Rica host Panama in San Jose while group leaders Mexico face Honduras in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.