Christian Pulisic brace as U.S. rolls; Mexico rallies vs. El Salvador
The United States comfortably avoided embarrassment as it took a small but necessary step towards World Cup qualification on Friday, beating St. Vincent and the Grenadines 6-0 in Kingstown.
Victory was, as it should have been, a formality, part of the process that must be completed in exchange for a shot at competing in the biggest tournament in soccer.
Goals from Bobby Wood, Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore, Christian Pulisic (twice) and Sacha Kljestan sealed the points and means that one more win against Trinidad & Tobago would guarantee the Americans a spot in the final six-team qualifier that will send at least three teams to the World Cup in 2018.
Mexico rebounded from a sluggish first half to beat El Salvador 3-1 and maintain its perfect group-stage record in qualification.
Alexander Larin converted from the penalty spot in the first half to shock the visitors with a cheeky, chipped effort to give his team a 1-0 lead, that the hosts took to the break.
The second half was all Mexico, though, as goals from Hector Moreno, Angel Sepulveda and Raul Jimenez helped Juan Carlos Osorio's team ease to victory.
Mexico, who have already secured a spot in the Hexagonal round, wrap up group play on Tuesday with a match against Honduras, while El Salvador will face Canada.
Canada's hopes of making it out of the group stage of qualifying took a hit with a 2-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula.
The visitor's afternoon got off to a solid start when Manjrekar James headed home from a corner kick in the 35th minute.
However, Honduras were back on level terms before the break when Mario Martínez lashed home a left-footed shot from outside the box in first-half injury time.
The hosts weren't ready to share the spoils however and Romell Quioto scored early in the second half to give his country the lead, which they would hold on to for all three points and sole possession of second place behind Mexico in Group A.
A late Carlos Ruiz goal helped Guatemala draw 2-2 with Trinidad & Tobago and keep its slim hopes of beating out the U.S. for second spot in Group C alive.
Ruiz opened the scoring for the visiting team in the 36th minute, but a Joevin Jones brace had T&T in the lead and on track to secure a spot in the Hex.
However, with time winding down and his team down to 10 men following a red card to Cristian Jimenez, Ruiz struck again in the 86th minute to earn Guatemala a point.
Guatemala will now need the U.S. to lose to T&T and then beat St. Vincent by a huge margin to overcome the Americans' far superior goal differential.
Costa Rica kept a stranglehold on its Group B lead with a later winner from Randall Azofeifa to beat Haiti 1-0.
Azofeifa struck from distance in the 71st minute to put Los Ticos ahead and earn the three points to maintain the advantage over second-place Panama, who ran out 2-0 winners against Jamaica.