Wonder Boy fires stunning reminder to Socceroos

This is why the Socceroos would be so desperate to avoid a World Cup playoff against the USA.

With the Americans' qualification hopes hanging in the balance, Christian Pulisic settled the nerves against Panama with an extraordinary opening goal.

The USA went into the clash one point behind Panama and under severe pressure to automatically qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia.

Most experts predicted the loser of the match would face a potential World Cup qualifying play-off with the Socceroos, provided the Aussies overcome Syria in Sydney on Tuesday night.

However, Pulisic, the USA prodigy dubbed 'Wonder Boy' lived up to his tag with a fabulous opener in Orlando on Friday night (Saturday AEST) to get the Americans up and running.

Pulisic answered the critics in style. Pic: ESPN

The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund superstar latched onto a pass from Jozy Altidore with an exquisite first touch, before beating Panama's rearguard and rounding the keeper to slot the ball home.

Panama went into the clash knowing a win would be enough for them to book a ticket to Russia but they were blown away by a USA side that had previously struggled throughout qualifying.

Altidore added two more goals to make it 3-0 to the Americans at halftime, with Bobby Wood adding a fourth in the second half to complete the rout.

The Americans and Pulisic in particular, have come under intense scrutiny with retired great Alexi Lalas having led the criticism of the side.

The USA's fate is now firmly in their own hands though with a win in their final game enough to secure automatic World Cup qualification.

The Americans face the weakest team still left at this stage, Trinidad & Tobago, while Panama host Costa Rica, who have only lost away at Mexico.

Honduras still have second-placed Costa Rica left to play before hosting runaway leaders Mexico, who have already qualified for the World Cup, in their final game.

The Socceroos will be watching those results closely with Panama and Honduras now the most likely to finish up in the CONCACAF play-off spot.