ORLANDO, Fla. — Christian Pulisic scored with a brilliant touch to complete a field-length rush just eight minutes in, then split the defense to set up Jozy Altidore for the first of the forward’s two goals and put the United States back on track for next year’s World Cup with a 4-0 rout of Panama on Friday night.

Pulisic fed Altidore for a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute. Altidore converted a penalty kick with a chip in the 43rd after Bobby Wood was fouled, and Wood added a goal in the 63rd.

The U.S. ended a three-match winless streak in qualifying and, with 12 points, moved two points ahead of Panama into third place – the last automatic berth – in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Honduras has nine points going into its match Saturday at Costa Rica, which is second with 15.

Goal difference means the Americans put themselves in great shape to reach an eighth straight World Cup, almost certainly with a win Tuesday night at Trinidad and Tobago, and likely with a tie if Honduras fails to win Saturday. The U.S. is plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.

The region’s fourth-place team advances to a playoff next month against Australia or Syria.

“We could have finished better on the day and scored more goals,” U.S. Coach Bruce Arena said.

Playing his first international match since turning 19 last month, Pulisic was moved to central midfield from the flanks by Arena and sparked the offense from the opening whistle with pace and ball control seldom seen from Americans.

Panama was trying to move into position to qualify for its first World Cup.

The Panamanians were 90 seconds from advancing to a playoff against New Zealand four years ago before Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson scored late goals for the U.S. at Honduras, which dropped Panama behind Mexico and into fifth place.

All U.S. players stood at attention during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and all but Altidore and DeAndre Yedlin had their right hands placed over their hearts.