Had the US team lost the game to Panama, the chances of qualifying for the global tournament to be staged in Russia would’ve been all but gone. The Stars and the Stripes are on course for the eighth consecutive qualification to the group stages of World Cup. The compressive 4-0 rout over Panama gave Bruce Arena much as it also improved the goal difference of his side while working enough against their opponent’s goal difference.

At the break, the Americans were already ahead by three goals. German-based striker, Christian Pulisic opened the score in the eighth minute of the game before Jozi Altidore added two more goals to cushion his side advantage before the half-time whistle.

Coming back from the break, the Americans meant business as Bobby Shou Wood was on the scoresheet to put the US victory beyond Panama’s reach. The win saw the USA swap positions with their opponents with the Americans climbing to the third spot while Panama fell to position four in the standings.

On the verge of missing out

The US national soccer manager went into the game very much aware of the ramifications of losing the match, and his side did not disappoint as they showed the true American spirit in the game. The USA has never missed out in any World Cup competition since 1990 - bringing the total number of USMNT participation in the global competition to ten. Bruce Arena’s side now needs to win its final group match to seal its ticket to a part in the 2018 Russia World Cup.

However, things can get worse for the US team should they fail to record a win in their final group match.

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Honduras who has played one game less than the USA is only trailing them by three points so if Honduras wins its two remaining fixtures and the US team fails to win its last game, USMNT will fail to qualify. Panama also has a chance of overtaking the USA with a victory in its previous fixture and the Americans failing to win their final match.

The US is still favorite to join Mexico and Costa Rica

The USA's fiercest rivals, Mexico has secured the ticket to Russia while Costa Rica seems likely to be the second side of the region to book a place in the World Cup. With one game in hand, Costa Rica has 15 points and should it win against Honduras tonight; it will seal its qualification. In fact, two wins for Costa Rica with a good score margin will see Costa Rica finish first in the group if Mexico loses its last fixture.

It isn’t easy for the US to finish second in the group even if Costa Rica loses its two remaining fixtures with the Stars and Stripes winning the last game. They can only prevail over Costa Rica on two scenarios. One, If USMNT scores more than two goals or if Costa Rica concedes more than two goals while losing the two matches.

The US has its fate in its hand and doesn’t depend on any side to reach the 2018 Russia World Cup group stages. With a win for the US, Panama and Honduras cannot catch up with the Americans in the third and final spot for World Cup qualification.