World Cup - Altidore among the goals as US top qualifying group

Goals from Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson gave a confident United States a 2-0 win over Panama in Seattle as Juergen Klinsmann's team moved to the top of the six-team CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group.

Reuters
World Cup - Altidore among the goals as US top qualifying group
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US players celebrate a goal during their Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Century Link Field against Panama (AFP)

Despite concerns about a temporary grass surface laid on top of the artificial turf at CenturyLink Field, the United States produced their most fluent performance so far to take a strong step towards qualification for next year's finals in Brazil.

Solid at the back, industrious and creative in midfield and with a threatening attack, Klinsmann's team found a cohesiveness they lacked in the early games as they reached the half-way mark of the final qualifying round with a two-point lead at the top of the standings.

The United States took the lead in the 36th minute with a nicely worked move - Michael Bradley bursting out of midfield, feeding Fabian Johnson on the left whose low cross was turned in at the back post by Altidore.

Altidore has now scored in the last three games for the United States having gone more than 18 months without an international goal.

Panama, who went into the game unbeaten, had the ball in the net on the stroke of halftime but Luis Tejada's effort was ruled out for offside.

Johnson made sure of the win for the hosts in the 53rd minute when Geoff Cameron picked him out with a superb cross-field pass the Seattle Sounders forward confidently converted to the delight of his home fans.

Clint Dempsey struck the bar with a shot as he followed up on an Altidore shot that was parried by Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo as the United States continued to attack.

DaMarcus Beasley then hit the post in the 80th minute after bursting through and being played in by an Altidore pass.

Mexico were booed off the field after being held to a 0-0 draw at home to Costa Rica, their third successive goalless draw at the Azteca Stadium.

After scoreless draws with Jamaica and the United States at home and another one away to Panama on Friday, Mexico were under pressure to find their scoring touch but created far too little.

Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre faced calls from the Azteca crowd for him to quit or be sacked and the Mexican Football Federation could face a fine after supporters threw objects on the field.

The worst occurrence happened when Costa Rica forward Bryan Ruiz needed police with shields to protect him when he went to take a corner and he was subjected to a barrage of objects, including a plastic bottle, being thrown at him.

It was a disciplined defensive display from Costa Rica but they almost grabbed an early lead when forward Joel Campbell struck the post in the fourth minute.

Campbell then forced Mexico keeper Jose de Jesus Corona into action with a low drive after great work from Cristian Bolanos as the visitors enjoyed the early chances.

Two minutes before the break, Ruiz blasted over from a promising position, just outside the area.

Mexico came out with attacking intent after the break with Carlos Salcido's near post drive well parried by Costa Rica keeper Keilor Navas.

At times 'El Tri' laid siege to the Costa Rican penalty area but they lacked invention and there were few clear cut chances as the two sides shared the points.

Honduras beat struggling Jamaica after Oscar Boniek Garcia put them ahead in the 10th minute after good work from Roger Espinoza.

The Reggae Boyz were reduced to 10 men in the 76th minute when Adrian Mariappa was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Honduras wrapped up victory with two minutes remaining when Roger Rojas intercepted a back pass, rounded Donovan Ricketts and slipped the ball into the empty net.

Three teams qualify automatically from CONCACAF to next year's World Cup finals in Brazil while the fourth placed team will meet Oceania winners New Zealand in a two-legged play-off for one further spot.

The United States lead at the halfway stage of the qualifying round on 10 points from five games followed by Costa Rica on eight points from the same number of games while Mexico are also on eight points having played an extra game.

Honduras have seven points from five games, Panama have six points (five games) and Jamaica two points (six games).

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