Pulisic brace leads USMNT to 6-0 win over St. Vincent

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JACK HAZZARD

The U.S. Men’s National Team did what they had to do on Friday night: make quick work of an overmatched opponent.

The U.S. earned a 6-0 victory over St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Friday afternoon’s CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying match. Christian Pulisic scored a brace, with Sacha Kljestan, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood and Matt Besler rounding out the goalscorers.

Although the final score was predictable from the beginning, Jurgen Klinsmann and his side showed true promise and effort — even though it was against a much weaker side.

With scorching 95 degree heat and the addition of strong winds, it was easy to see that the United States struggled to adjust early on. In addition to the grueling tropical weather, Klinsmann’s side had to adjust to the rough conditions that the pitch presented, visibly struggling to control bouncing passes that were disturbed by an uneven grounds.

Early on, the United States had the upper hand, completely controlling possession. As the first half unfolded, it began to look as if the U.S. were not going to score. However, in the 28′ minute, Hawaiian native Bobby Wood put the United States on the board with a classy finish. The Hamburg product was handed a simple and slow layoff, burying the chance on his first touch in the back right of the net.

Soon after Wood’s goal, Sporting Kansas City center back Matt Besler recorded his first ever international goal in the 32′ minute off of a free kick that was dumped into the box. Besler was at the right place, at the right time, concluding with a sharp strike from the defender’s left foot to double the lead.

As the match began to settle down following the U.S.’s second goal, Bobby Wood was brought down in the box, resulting in a penalty call from the referee. USMNT captain, Jozy Altidore, stepped up to the spot and converted easily with a strong shot down the middle, giving the U.S. a 3-0 going into the half.

Breaking out of the second half was St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who applied pressure early on, having two goals called back for offside.

With the match needing a spark, Klinsmann’s first substitutes were BVB Dortmund prodigy Christian Pulisic and New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan.

And they delivered.

After playing for only five minutes, the 30-year-old Kljestan placed a perfect through ball to a streaking Pulisic, who finished it calmly around St. Vincent’s keeper, pushing the U.S.’s lead to four. Only seven minutes later, the same substitute pair that linked up on the United States’ fourth goal decided to reverse roles, resulting in Pulisic playing a beautiful pass behind four markers to a wide open Sacha Kljestan, who simply tapped in the U.S.’s fifth goal.

Even with both substitutes having a goal and an assist each, it wasn’t enough for Pulisic and Kljestan. In the 92′ minute, Kljestan and Pulisic linked up once again. The New York Red Bulls captain laid off a clean setup to the BVB star, who smashed it home past the eighteen, giving the 17-year-old a second half brace.

The U.S. qualifies for the Hex if Guatemala falls to Trinidad and Tobago on Friday night. The U.S. face Trinidad this Tuesday.