(Reuters) - Two second-half goals from Christian Pulisic gave the United States a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday and boosted their chances of earning an automatic berth for the 2018 World Cup finals.
The win put the United States on seven points from five games in the CONCACAF Hexagonal and continues their good run under new coach Bruce Arena. CONCACAF represents soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Group leaders Mexico, who host the United States on Sunday, beat Honduras 3-0 to record their fourth consecutive victory and cement top spot on 13 points. Oswaldo Alanis put the Mexicans ahead after 35 minutes before Hirving Lozano Raul Jimenez added second-half goals.
Costa Rica are in second place on eight points after drawing 0-0 with Panama, who trail the United States by a point.
In Colorado, the United States struggled to get going in the first half and almost fell behind when the visitors’ Kenwyne Jones smacked a header off the bar, but they got the breakthrough after 52 minutes when Pulisic slid in to stab home a low cross from DeAndre Yedlin.
Pulisic doubled his tally 10 minutes later when he ran on to a perfectly weighted pass from Jozy Altidore and slotted past goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams. It was Pulisic’s fourth goal in his last four games for the national side.
“It took us a little while to get going but once we’d worn them down our quality showed,” Pulisic said in a televised interview.
The top three teams from CONCACAF qualifying earn an automatic spot at the 2018 finals in Russia, while the fourth-placed team go into a play-off against a side from the Asian confederation.
Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford