The other automatic place at next year's World Cup in Russian Federation will probably go to either Panama or the United States, although Honduras also has a chance. The U.S. must beat Panama and then get either a draw or a win from their match against Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday. For the United States of America, a result in a high-pressure qualifier is nothing new.
"It was a good night", said US head coach Bruce Arena.
"This team went from 0-2 in November with a minus-five goal differential, we're now at plus-what, five, right?"
The ongoing search for a full time left back also hinders the Americans. We should be competing with Mexico for the confederation's number one spot every four years, and instead this team is competing with Honduras to avoid staying home. Its results from the first two matchdays in November left the US in last place and with little margin for error.
It's do or die for the USA men's soccer team. The red, white and blue put on a show, rolling Honduras 6-0 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose as Clint Dempsey announced his return to the National Team after missing months with an irregular heartbeat. With a win against Panama, it jumps to 93 percent, drops to 62 percent with a draw and 44 percent with a loss. But you just wonder if the US doesn't make it what sort of reverberations that would have on him being re-elected.
What stood out the most for the US was the renewed brilliance of Pulisic, the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund star who's already the U.S.'s best player, and his often telepathic understanding with Altidore in both directions.
"The attackers were electric".
Since then, the United States have qualified for every edition of the World Cup, a record of achievement that reflects the steady development of the world's most popular sport in a country which for so long remained impervious to its charms. We controlled our own destiny. All you had to do was read the sign to know it could have gone one of two ways. "He took a few shots, and we thought it was smart to get him off the field".
As is the case when the team needs to demonstrate its resilience, the attack was relentless. Between goals and assists, he's had a hand in 11 of the 15 goals the Americans scored in the Hex stage of qualifying.
Bobby Wood closed out the scoring in the 63rd minute, while Tim Howard recorded the clean sheet for the Americans.
The latest is Borussia Dortmund's fast-rising teenage sensation Christian Pulisic, who is already being linked with moves to elite European teams like Real Madrid.
A draw at Trinidad would be sufficient unless Honduras wins its last two matches and Panama does not beat Costa Rica by eight goals (or seven if Panama somehow overcomes its deficit in total goals vs. the USA, now nine).
Qualifying for the World Cup is no simple task, and, frankly, the process can seem pretty confusing at times.
Perhaps Bruce Arena's wry smile in his interviews after the US' 4-0 thrashing of Panama were a clue that he and his team were more relaxed than the media and certainly the fans about the occasion. If Bruce Arena's team loses, the USA will not qualify for next year's World Cup in Russian Federation. The Canaleros were simply overwhelmed by the speed, passing and movement from the entire American attack, not just Pulisic.
"The job isn't done yet", Jozy Altidore said. The issue is whether we get the results we need, and I think we're positioned to do that.