United States put 6 past St. Vincent and the Grenadines in first qualifier
ST. LOUIS -- Jozy Altidore scored twice as the United States bounced back from an early deficit and routed tiny St. Vincent and the Grenadines 6-1 on Friday night in the Americans' opening qualifier for the 2018 World Cup.
Oalex Anderson, a member of the third-division Seattle Sounders 2, took advantage of defensive confusion by Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin to put 129th-ranked St. Vincent ahead in the fifth minute.
But Bobby Wood tied the score in the 11th, Fabian Johnson put the 33rd-ranked Americans ahead in the 29th and Altidore scored two minutes later, becoming the fifth U.S. player to reach 30 international goals.
Geoff Cameron and Zardes boosted the lead to 5-1 early in the second half, and Altidore added his second goal in the 74th.
The Americans are unbeaten in 10 straight World Cup qualifying openers and extended their home unbeaten streak in qualifying to 28 games (26-0-2) since 2001.
Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe and New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga made their national team debuts midway through the second half. Nagbe, 25, was born in Liberia and became a U.S. citizen in September. Miazga, 20, also was eligible to play for Poland before Friday.
There was a moment of silence for the victims of attacks in Paris earlier Friday. The game drew a near-sellout crowd of 43,433 with temperatures in the 50s for the national team's return to St. Louis.
The U.S. entered with three straight home losses for the first time since 1997, prompting questions about the leadership and tactics of coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The Americans face a bigger test on Tuesday when they play a qualifier at Trinidad and Tobago.
The road to Russia 2018 will be long -- of the 11 starters in the opening qualifier of the last cycle, only Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey were on the roster in Brazil last year. The top two teams in this semifinal group, which also includes Guatemala, advance to the six-nation regional final round.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan was rarely tested by St. Vincent. Klinsmann said Howard is likely to start against the Soca Warriors.
After St. Vincent went ahead on a move that began with a long ball over the American defense, three of the first four U.S. goals came from restarts.
Wood scored his fourth goal this year, his first as a starter, on a 6-yard header following a cross from Yedlin, and Johnson gained the lead with a goal from a free kick.
Altidore's first goal came on another set play, with Jones at the near post heading Fabian Johnson's corner kick to the far post. Altidore ran into the net to lose his markers, popped out and had an open header.
Wood set up Cameron's third international goal on a looping header in the 51st minute following a corner kick, Zardes ran in alone to beat goalkeeper Kenyan Desmond in the 58th minute off Altidore's pass, and Altidore scored the final goal with a left-footed shot following Jones' pass.
Jones came off in the 84th after grabbing the back of his left leg, then re-entered and finished the match.