Everyone can take a deep breath: the U.S. is going to the World Cup.
In what was nearly literally a must-win, the Americans dominated Panama to the tune of a 4-0 win Friday night in Orlando. The win didn't lock up a World Cup berth for the U.S., but it put the U.S. back in one of the three automatic qualifying positions from CONCACAF with one game remaining, which will be at last place Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.
Borussia Dortmund teenage midfielder Christian Pulisic stole the show with an early goal and set up the second goal with an assist to Jozy Altidore. With the game in hand by halftime, Pulisic was taken out 10 minutes into the second half. The man who replaced him is familiar to Chicago Fire fans.
Dax McCarty entered in the 56th minute for Pulisic and finished the match. McCarty is an Orlando native, which meant the game was a homecoming for him.
He nearly had an assist when he set up Paul Arriola in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, but Arriola was denied in the breakaway in the 80th minute.
McCarty has been called in to every World Cup qualifying roster since Bruce Arena took over as coach, but hadn't got off the bench. This marked his first appearance in a World Cup qualifier.