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U.S. men's soccer team tops Panama, 2-0, in CONCACAF World Cup qualifier

06/12/2013 12:27 PM ET
By Michael Tanowitz

The U.S. men's soccer team is halfway to a berth in the 2014 World Cup.(AP)
The United States Men’s National Soccer Team took a big step forward towards 2014 World Cup qualification on Tuesday night, topping Panama 2-0 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle to vault to the top of their CONCACAF qualifying group table.

Team USA’s two goals came just on either side of halftime. Jozy Altidore netted his third goal in as many games in the 36th minute, and Eddie Johnson, starting in place of suspended Graham Zusi, scored an insurance goal in the 53rd minute.

Panama nearly tied the game in the 45th minute when Luis Tejada beat Team USA goalkeeper Tim Howard, but Tejada was ruled offside on the play.

Halfway through their 10-match, six-team qualifier, Team USA has a 3-1-1 record and 10 points – two ahead of both Costa Rica and Mexico and three up on Honduras – and leads the group in the top tiebreaker, goal differential, as well.

The top three finishers in the qualifier earn automatic invites to next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place team will face New Zealand, the Oceanic Football Confederation winner, for an at-large slot.

Team USA’s next qualifying match comes next Tuesday, June 18, against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The Americans will be without DeMarcus Beasley for that one, as he will be suspended after picking up a yellow card – his second in two games – late in the second half against Panama.

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