Sporting Kansas City midfielder James Musa earned his second cap for the New Zealand Men's National Team on Friday, playing 26 minutes in an emphatic 6-1 win over Solomon Islands in the first leg of the OFC Final Playoff.
Musa entered as a second-half substitute and delivered a cool display in the holding midfield area, helping the All Whites to a commanding aggregate lead at QBE Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.
The return leg will see New Zealand visit Solomon Islands at 10 p.m. CT Monday at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara. Should the All Whites secure an aggregate victory, they will advance to a two-legged playoff against a South American team in November, with the winner advancing to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Follow @NZ_Football on Twitter for live updates throughout the match.
Making his first international appearance since debuting in May 2014, Musa entered Friday's action in the 64th minute with New Zealand up 4-1. The All Whites received a sterling performance from Burnley striker Chris Wood, whose hat-trick stole the headlines in a match that also produced goals from Kosta Barbarouses, Ryan Thomas and Michael McGlinchey. Henry Fa’arodo buried a penalty kick shortly after halftime for Solomon Islands' lone strike in what became a tumultuous night for the Bonitos.
Musa's cameo was another positive step forward for the 25-year-old, who earned his Sporting KC debut with a start at Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 12. The versatile midfielder/defender has also played the full 90 minutes in 18 USL appearances for the Swope Park Rangers, who are well positioned to qualify for the postseason as one of the Western Conference's best teams.