DeAndre Yedlin (white jersey) was part of a USA defense that shutout host St. Vincent & the Grenadines in a World Cup qualifier on September 2, 2016, in Kingstown. (Photo: John Dorton/isiphotos.com)
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent & the Grenadines – The United States (3W-1D-1L, 10 points) stayed on pace to advance in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 3-0 win at the St. Vincent & the Grenadines (0-0-5, 0) on Friday at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.
The fourth-round result provisionally moves the Americans into first place in Group C on goal difference (+13 to + 8) over Trinidad & Tobago (3-1-0, 10), which will host Guatemala (2-0-2, 6) later in the evening.
Second-half substitute Christian Pulisic scored two goals for the U.S., while Bobby Wood, Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan added one each.
SVG had a pair of goals disallowed for offside within the opening 11 minutes of the second half.
Wood put the visitor ahead in the 28th minute, Altidore won possession near the top of the SVG and found Fabian Johnson just inside the penalty area with a flicked pass. Johnson laid off a short ball Wood, whose curling shot from top of the box across goal into the far right side netting.
Four minutes later the lead was doubled as Besler controlled a poor clearance with his chest at the left post, one-timing a left-footed shot into the upper left corner of the net for the first international goal of his career.
The Americans took a 3-0 advantage into halftime, when Altidore converted a penalty kick in the 43rd minute after Wood was fouled in the box.
After entering as 66th minute substitutes for Alejandro Bedoya and Johnson, Kljestan and Pulisic put on a show.
In the 71st minute, a well-worked passing sequence eventually led to Kljestan getting the ball on the right wing, where he whipped in a cross to the penalty spot for Pulisic. The 17-year-old midfielder brought it down with the outside of his right foot, before finishing with his left into the lower-right corner. The goal made Pulisic the youngest U.S. player to score a World Cup Qualifying goal.
Roles were reversed in the 78th minute. Pulisic got down the left flank and cut a feed across the top of the six-yard box for an unmarked Kljestan to tap for his first international goal since 2010.
The comprehensive performance was punctuated in the second minute of stoppage with Kljestan and Pulisic combining once again. From near the right edge of the box, Kljestan did well to shield the ball away from his defender, spin and get his head up to pick out Pulisic waiting at the top of the area. Calmly getting the goal in his sight, Pulisic placed the ball into the upper left corner to complete his brace.
In their first meeting on November 13, 2015, SVG took an early lead only for the U.S. to rally for a 6-1 victory.