SEATTLE, WA (USsoccer.com) – The U.S. Men’s National Team extended their unbeaten streak in home World Cup Qualifiers to 24 straight games and took sole possession of first place in the Final Round with a 2-0 win against Panama Tuesday night in Seattle in front of 40,847 fans at CenturyLink Field.
Altidore tallied the game-winner in the 36th minute off a perfectly placed cross from Fabian Johnson, giving the striker his third goal in as many games. Altidore now has 16 international goals in his career, putting him ninth on the MNT all-time scoring list ahead of Cobi Jones. The goal was also his seventh in the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying, tying him with Landon Donovan for the most in MNT history.
Less than 20 minutes into the second half, Seattle Sounders FC striker Eddie Johnson gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead in front of his home crowd, with a deft finish after a long pass from Geoff Cameron. The goal was his 11th in 16 career World Cup Qualifying games, and puts him one behind all-time leaders Clint Dempsey and Donovan.
Eddie Johnson goal sequence captured by Rick Morrison
With a 3-1-1 record and three shutouts, the U.S. sits alone atop the Hexagonal with 10 points, two points clear of both Costa Rica and Mexico. This is the first time the U.S. has led the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying at the halfway mark since the 2002 qualifying cycle, and just the second time in the last five cycles.
In the 80th minute, DaMarcus Beasley nearly made it 3-0 when he took off on a remarkable 60-yard run down the left flank and received a perfect through ball from Altidore, but his shot nicked the left post and went wide.
The U.S. will complete the trio of World Cup Qualifiers when they host Honduras on June 18 in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff at sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium is set for 7 p.m. MT (9 p.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas. Fans can also follow live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
The 40,847 fans at CenturyLink was the seventh largest crowd for a home FIFA World Cup Qualifier and the second largest ever for a U.S. MNT match in the Pacific Northwest.
Klinsmann made two changes from the lineup against Panama, placing Geoff Cameron into central midfield to replace Jones and bringing Eddie Johnson on at right midfield to replace the suspended Graham Zusi.
DaMarcus Beasley received his second yellow card of the cycle during tonight’s match, going into the referee’s book in the second minute of second half stoppage time. Beasley will be suspended for the match against Honduras in Salt Lake.
Jozy Altidore, Cameron and Tim Howard were also yellow carded during tonight’s match. They join six more players who are also carrying yellow cards: Matt Besler, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and Fabian Johnson. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.
Fabian Johnson’s assist was the third in his national team career and first of 2013.
Stuart Holden came on as a late sub, making his first FIFA World Cup Qualifying appearance since the match against Costa Rica on Oct. 14, 2009.
Corona made his first appearance of the Hexagonal, also entering the field as a late sub. His last World Cup qualifying appearance was on Oct. 16, 2012 vs. Guatemala.
Eddie Johnson is now tied for 10th all-time with 15 goals for the USA. He’s level with Cobi Jones who tallied 15 times in his record-setting 164 international appearances for the Men’s National Team.
Altidore earned his second-consecutive Budweiser Man of the Match award after taking the top spot on June 7 in Jamaica.
Howard earned his first clean sheet of 2013, first clean sheet in this year’s Hexagonal, second clean sheet of this World Cup Qualifying cycle, and 26th clean sheet in his career in tonight’s 2-0 win.
The United States is now 9-1-2 against Panama all time, including an 8-1-1 record on U.S. soil.
Mexico, which tied 0-0 with Costa Rica earlier tonight for their third straight scoreless draw at home in the Final Round, has already played an additional match due to their participation in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
-U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Panama Date: June 11, 2013 Competition: 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Final Round Venue: Century Link Field; Seattle Kickoff: 7:08 p.m. PT Attendance: 40,847 Weather: 74 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F USA 1 1 2
PAN 0 0 0
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 36th minute
USA – Eddie Johnson (Geoff Cameron) 53