ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 27: Christian Pulisic #10 of the United States celebrates scoring with Jesus Ferreira #20 during a FIFA World Cup qualifier game between Panama and USMNT at Exploria Stadium on March 27, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Pulisic Treble Has USMNT On Brink Of World Cup Qualification

The United States Men’s National Team will qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals, provided they get any result better than a 6-0 reverse away to Costa Rica on Wednesday night.

In this penultimate trio of games, a creditable 0-0 draw away to Mexico proved to be a good omen for Gregg Berhalter’s team as in their next game against Panama, they ran out superb 5-1 winners, leading the Panamanians 4-0 at half time.

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic was the key man for the team, netting a hat-trick in Orlando added to goals from the excellent Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira which saw Panama eliminated from qualification.

However, Costa Rica’s win in El Salvador means that while the U.S. team are almost certainly through, they are not quite there mathematically just yet.

A Good Point At The Azteca

With three games to play in this final set, the USMNT would not have been thankful for what

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MARCH 24: Hector Herrera (L) of Mexico fights for the ball with Giovanni Reyna (R) of United States during the match between Mexico and The United States as part of the Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on March 24, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)

the fixture computer had decided for them.

They began with a trip to fierce rivals Mexico to the Azteca Stadium, where they have never won a World Cup Qualifier previously and with both teams level on points, and Panama and Costa Rica breathing down their necks, a defeat could have been disastrous for either team.

However, Berhalter’s team played well, especially in the first half, and had they been a little more clinical in front of goal, they could have snatched the lead.

A 0-0 draw ensued in what was very much a case of a point won, rather than two lost and good news also came in the shape of Panama only managing to draw at home to Honduras, however Costa Rica’s win over Canada meant that they now looked like being the main threat to the U.S. and Mexican team’s chances of qualification.

Panama Pummelled By Pulisic Penalty Perfection

Next up was a tricky home game against Panama, a team that had beaten the USMNT on home soil earlier in qualifying and it was a game that the team will certainly have felt was a must-win game ahead of their final group stage game in Costa Rica.

However, in the end, it was a breeze for the United States as goals from Pulisic, Arriola and Ferreira put them 3-0 up inside the first half hour.

Pulisic then scored his second penalty of the game in injury time in the first half to make it 4-0 and then completed his hat-trick in the 65th minute.

The Chelsea man was substituted just a few minutes later no doubt with that Costa Rica game very much on Berhalter’s mind.

Panama did pull a goal back late on, but that 5-1 win put the United States second above Mexico and into the strongest position of the three teams chasing the two open qualification spots behind Canada.

However, Costa Rica’s 2-1 win against El Salvador meant that although US qualification looked very, very likely, it was not mathematically assured.

No More World Cup Qualification Difficulties?

Next up is the game in Costa Rica and anything better than a 6-0 defeat to their hosts will

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put the United States in the finals.

Even in the sometimes crazy world of soccer, that shouldn’t happen and in truth, this team is good enough to pick up at least a point, or even the win, to ensure they qualify comfortably.

However, even if they were to be knocked into the Inter-Conference Playoff by finishing fourth, all would not be lost, with a one off playoff in Qatar in June against either the Solomon Islands or New Zealand being the only obstacle to the finals itself.

It shouldn’t come to that however and the US Team should confirm their place in the finals comfortably on Wednesday night and it may well be the last time that they are forced to worry about their participation at a World Cup Finals tournament, at least for the foreseeable future.

That’s because after this Finals, the next will be hosted by Mexico, Canada and the United states, with all three teams serving as hosts for the tournament, which means that they qualify for the event automatically.

After that, the number of teams in a World Cup will increase from 32 to 48, and this means that the number of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers will increase from three, likely to as many as six.

This will likely entail a reshuffle of how the qualification campaign in the CONCACAF region will go, but that will likely result in fewer of the big teams in this region, the United States and Mexico in particular, missing out on the finals.

So enjoy the game this week. It may well be the toughest set of qualifying games the USMNT face for a long time.

And barring a disaster, they should be in Qatar this winter trying to shine at the World Cup Finals.

Featured Image – ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 27: Christian Pulisic #10 of the United States celebrates scoring with Jesus Ferreira #20 during a FIFA World Cup qualifier game between Panama and USMNT at Exploria Stadium on March 27, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)


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