The day before the game, a tearful Felipe Baloy, a veteran of 18 seasons, described Friday's game as the
biggest game of his career. But the Panamanian center back was overrun so badly by Bobby Wood, Pulisic and Altidore in the first half that Gomez mercifully subbed him off at the break with the
There was only one way to stop Pulisic and that was to get him out of the game. Which is exactly what happened. Kicked in the calf by Murillo, Pulisic hobbled off in the 55th minute.
Howard said Concacaf opponents have only one strategy: "'Kick the kid from Dortmund.’ It’s clear. You can see it."
Gomez said Pulisic was the difference in the game.
"The kid killed us," he said. "He did what he wanted."
Gomez said the key to playing against the USA is denying space for Pulisic and his cohorts to roam free.
“In the other games we played against the United States," he said, "we never gave them so much space in the back. This time we gave them space and that was the error. They took advantage and they were superior and we were bad and they hit us hard.”
The USA was so far superior Gomez said the USA should have scored 10 goals. It settled for four goals, two from Altidore and one each from Pulisic and Wood.
“They smelled blood from the beginning,” Howard said of the U.S. attack that also featured Darlington Nagbe and Paul Arriola on the wings. “Any time they picked up the ball, it was either a yellow-card foul or some sort of breakaway."
Arena described Pulisic as "an exceptional player" but he said he depended on having other good players around him to be effective.
"The better collection of players we have around Christian," said Arena, "he’s just going to be a better player."
The modest Pulisic concurred.
"I’m happy I was able to contribute a little bit and contribute a goal," he said. "It was a really good team performance."