US, Costa Rica win to lead qualifying
Jozy Altidore matched an American record with a goal for the fourth match in a row as the United States beat Honduras 1-0 Tuesday to stay atop the table in North American World Cup 2014 qualifying.
The Americans kept their two-point lead over Costa Rica in the six-nation ladder with 13 points off four wins and a draw in five matches since dropping their Concacaf final-round qualifying opener 2-1 at Honduras last February.
Costa Rica stayed on the heels of the US with a 2-0 home victory over Panama, giving the Ticos three wins and two drawn in six matches and setting up a showdown for first when the US team visits Costa Rica when qualifying resumes on September 6.
The region's top three teams advance to next year's World Cup finals in Brazil while the fourth-place team meets New Zealand to decide another berth.
Altidore, who plays for Dutch side AK Alkmaar, found the net in the 73rd minute off a centreing pass from Fabian Johnson.
That gave Altidore, who last year had struggled to score for the US side at times, four consecutive matches with goals, including a 4-3 friendly win over Germany and qualifying triumphs over Jamaica and Panama.
Altidore drew level for the longest US scoring streak, established by William Looby in 1954-1955 and matched by Eric Wynalda, Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson and twice by all-time US goal leader Landon Donovan.
US fans began chanting "We are going to Brazil" even before the final whistle. No team with 13 final-round points has ever failed to advance to the World Cup from North and Central American and Caribbean qualifying.
At rainy San Jose, Costa Rica struck twice early in the second half to keep Panama in fifth place.
The Ticos took the lead off a left-footed free kick by Bryan Ruiz in the 49th minute. He fired around a wall of defenders and between others to slide the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Costa Rica struck again in the 52nd minutes when Celso Borges took a pass from Ruiz in space four strides beyond the penalty area and fired a right-footed strike into the top right corner of the net.
The results left Mexico third in the group, with eight points earned from a win and five draws but still vulnerable, as Honduras is only one point back and Panama just two adrift for the last guaranteed Brazil spot. Winless Jamaica trails with two points.
Qualifying resumes September 6 with the seventh of 10 matches for each team, as Honduras will visit Mexico, Jamaica will travel to Panama, and the Ticos play host to the US squad.