Friday, October 20, 2017

Arena: USA well placed to qualify for World Cup

SoccerNews in World Cup 7 Oct 2017

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United States head coach Bruce Arena is confident his side will qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia following Friday’s rout of Panama.

USA leapfrogged Panama into the final automatic qualifying position in CONCACAF with a crushing 4-0 victory in Orlando.

Jozy Altidore scored a first-half brace, while Borussia Dortmund teenager Christian Pulisic scored and set up another to leave the Americans – two points clear of Panama and the play-off spot after nine matchdays – on the cusp of a World Cup berth.

“We are well placed to hopefully get to Russia [after that],” Arena said afterwards.

“Despite what some people think, we have had a good year, and that was certainly a good win for our team.

“Last November we were 0-2 with a minus five goal differential, so we have had a 10-goal change since then and we are doing well.

“We have advanced from sixth to third and we know we just have to finish it off now.”

Of Altidore, 19-year-old Pulisic and fellow goalscorer Bobby Wood, Arena added: “You can’t do much better than that.

“We wanted to push five players forward in attack as aggressively as we could, and those three were central to what we wanted to do. We might have had more goals, as we didn’t finish particularly well, but we have definitely done the job tonight.”

USA will guarantee their place at the showpiece tournament with victory against Trinidad and Tobago next week.

Trinidad and Tobago – who lost to Mexico on Friday – are bottom in the ‘Hexagonal’ round of qualifying, but Arena is wary of the hosts as Panama and Honduras loom.

“They [Trinidad] can play relaxed or very aggressive. I suspect they are going to be a handful,” said Arena. “So we have to respect our opposition, put the right players on the field and understand the conditions [out there]. It is up to us to get those things right.”

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