Jozy Altidore leads U.S. into final round of World Cup qualifying

Written By Ron Clements
(Getty Images)

The U.S. is on to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The men's national team clinched a spot in the six-team CONCACAF qualifying round Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Jozy Altidore scored twice, setting an USMNT record in the process, and assisted on another goal.

T&T had already qualified for the next round, but the U.S. now has the coveted top spot by winning Group C. The Americans will play Mexico on Nov. 11 to begin the CONCACAF Hexagonal. 

There wasn't much offense early, but the U.S. had the match's first real scoring chance in the 31st minute. After Jozy Altidore took a throw-in and dribbled down the pitch while trying to push off a defender, Altidore pushed a cross in front of the net. It was just out of the reach of a sliding Bobby Wood, but 17-year-old Christian Pulisic was there to knock it on goal.

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Pulisic's shot hit the near post and then bounced off the far post to hit woodwork twice and carom toward the corner where T&T outside back Aubrey David cleared it. 

As the U.S. threatened again, midfielder Sacha Kljestan blocked a clearing attempt early in the 44th minute. He quickly recovered in front of the net and blasted the ball of his left foot to the right corner past T&T keeper Marvin Phillip.

The T&T goalie kept it a 1-0 match by blocking an Altidore shot from the top of the box. The Soca Warriors nearly tied it in the 55th minute, but Kenwyne Jones' shot from the right side went high and wide of the net. 

Altidore made it 2-0, U.S., in the 59th minute after taking a feed from Fabian Johnson and juking Mekeil Williams before sending the ball by Phillip. It was Altidore's 15th career goal in a World Cup qualifying, a national team record.

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After Altidore set up Pulisic for the match's first goal, the youngster returned the favor in the 63rd minute with a cross in front of the net. Altidore played the one-timer for a point-blank goal to give the U.S. a commanding 3-0 lead. 

Paul Arriola, a second-half substitution for Alejandro Bedoya, got his first qualifying goal in the 71st minute. Arriola was there for a rebound after Phillip knocked away a Pulisic shot. 

Altidore nearly finished the hat trick late, but his final shot in the 91st minute went just over the crossbar. 

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