Teen star Pulisic on target as US routs Bolivia

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Rodrigo Ramallo No.18 of Bolivia collides with Christian Pulisic No.17 of USA late in the second half of the COPA America Centenario USA 2016 on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. AFP PHOTO

Rodrigo Ramallo No.18 of Bolivia collides with Christian Pulisic No.17 of USA late in the second half of the COPA America Centenario USA 2016 on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. AFP PHOTO

LOS ANGELES: Rising teenage star Christian Pulisic scored his first international goal as the United States warmed up for the Copa America Centenario on Sunday with a 4-0 thrashing of Bolivia.

Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Pulisic, 17, grabbed a coolly taken strike on 69 minutes at the Sporting Park Stadium in Kansas City as Jurgen Klinsmann’s team scored its first-ever win over Bolivia.

Bundesliga-based Pulisic, seen by many as the great hope of US soccer after establishing himself with Borussia Dortmund side this season, produced a lively cameo after appearing as a second-half substitute.

Pulisic’s display was one of several bright spots for Klinsmann as his team prepares for next Friday’s daunting Copa America opener against Colombia in Santa Clara, California.


John Brooks and Gyasi Zardes (2) were the other goalscorers for the United States, who will enter the Copa America in good spirits after back-to-back wins over South American opposition following a win over Ecuador in midweek.

Klinsmann’s men started slowly but gradually began to assert themselves in midfield to take a grip on the game.

The opening goal came after a period of Bolivian dominance, with Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zardes bagging his fourth international goal in the 26th minute.

Alejandro Bedoya was the architect, with the Nantes midfielder flighting a wonderful first-time pass behind the Bolivian defense to release Zardes, who had darted in from the flank.

The 24-year-old kept his cool to calmly roll his finish past advancing Bolivian goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra.

Eleven minutes later, Klinsmann’s men doubled their lead with a well-worked free-kick routine that caught the Bolivians napping.

Michael Bradley’s quick free-kick along the ground found Bedoya, who stole in behind the Bolivian back four to hook a low cross towards an unmarked Brooks six yards out.

The German-born Hertha Berlin defender made no mistake, side-footing home to make it 2-0.

Bolivia’s best chance came on the stroke of half-time when Diego Bejarano broke down the right and crossed for Carmelo Algaranaz who shot over.

There was still time for one more American effort, Bobby Wood drawing a diving save from Viscarra with a rasping effort after collecting Clint Dempsey’s pass.

The Americans did not have long to wait to add their third.

A fine raking pass from Bradley picked out Hamburg’s Wood, who controlled brilliantly on his chest before crossing for Zardes to bundle in his second on 52 minutes.

The introduction of Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe shortly afterwards yielded instead results.

Nagbe created the fourth goal, skipping away from the Bolivian defense and passing to Pulisic, who tucked away his maiden international goal.

AFP

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