Jozy Altidore continued his scoring blitz with a goal in his third straight match, Eddie Johnson thrilled his home club fans with a goal in the 53d minute, and the United States took over first place in its World Cup qualifying group with a 2-0 win over Panama Tuesday night in Seattle.
Altidore scored in the 36th minute on a perfect cross from Fabian Johnson, moments after a potential penalty kick for the Americans was denied.
Eddie Johnson then gave the US some cushion when he collected Geoff Cameron’s pass over the top of Panama’s defense and slid a left-footed shot past Jaime Penedo less than 10 minutes into the second half.
The US holds a 2-point lead over Costa Rica and Mexico in the qualifying group in the 10-game final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. They will host Honduras next Tuesday night in Sandy, Utah.
The US improved to 9-1-2 all-time against Panama and is 22-0-2 in home qualifiers since losing to Honduras in September 2001 at Washington, D.C. They are 36-1-7 since losing to Costa Rica in 1985 at Torrance, Calif.
The match was played before 40,847, the seventh-largest crowd for a World Cup qualifier in US soccer history, in exactly the atmosphere US Soccer hoped it would get by playing the qualifier in Seattle.
Giving Seattle the match came with logistical obstacles — none bigger than a temporary grass field that was far from ideal — but a huge pro-American crowd, most of which stood the entire match, made up for the questionable surface.
They were rewarded with an impressive performance by the US that built off its late winner in Jamaica last Friday. The Americans (3-1-1) are two points ahead of Costa Rica (2-2-1) and Mexico (1-0-5) who played to a 0-0 tie in Mexico City earlier Tuesday. The US also has a game in hand on Mexico.
Argentina 1, Ecuador 1 — With the start of the World Cup a year and a day away, South American leader Argentina (7-1-5) was held to its third straight draw at third-place Ecuador (6-3-3), but guaranteed itself at least fifth place in World Cup qualifying. Sergio Aguero’s fourth-minute penalty kick was offset by Segundo Castillo’s 17th-minute goal off a corner kick. Argentina’s Javier Mascherano was given a red card in the 88th minute after he kicked at an attendant carting him off following a challenge, starting a sideline scuffle.
Bolivia and Paraguay cannot finish in the top four and get automatic qualification for the World Cup, but mathematically both have a shot at the playoff-yielding fifth spot.
Colombia 2, Peru 0 — Second-place Colombia (7-3-2) beat visiting Peru on Radamel Falcao’s penalty kick in the 12th minute and Teofilo Gutierrez’s goal in the 45th.
Uruguay 1, Venezuela 0 — Uruguay got a goal from Edinson Cavani in the 28th minute to move up to fifth place and drop the host Venezuelans to sixth.
Chile 3, Bolivia 1 — Chile moved into the qualification zone with a 3-1 win at home against Bolivia. The hosts took control with goals in the 16th and 18th minutes: Eduardo Vargas scored the opener and Alexis Sanchez doubled the advantage.
Australia 4, Jordan 0 — Australia improved its chances of qualifying for a third consecutive World Cup with a victory over Jordan. Robbie Kruse scored and set up two goals for Australia (2-1-4), which moved into second place in Group B with 10 points with one game left, one point ahead of Oman (2-2-3) and three in front of Jordan (2-4-1). The top two teams in each group advance. Goals by Mark Bresciano in the 15th minute and Tim Cahill in the 61st, both off Kruse passes, built Australia’s lead at Melbourne.
South Korea 1, Uzbekistan 0 — South Korea moved within a point of reaching soccer’s showcase for the eighth straight time. At Seoul, Akmal Shorakhmedov’s own goal in the 42d minute boosted Group A leader South Korea (4-1-2), which remained one point ahead of Iran (4-2-1) and moved three ahead of Uzbekistan (3-2-2). South Korea hosts Iran on June 18, when Uzbekistan is home against Qatar (2-4-1).
Japan 1, Iraq 0 — First-place Japan (4-1-2), which last week became the first team to clinch a berth, beat last-place Iraq (1-4-2) at Doha, Qatar, on Shinji Okazaki’s 89th-minute goal.
Iran 4, Lebanon 0 — Iran won at home over last-place Lebanon (1-5-2) as Javad Nekonam scored twice, and Mohammad Khalatbari and Reza Ghoochannej had a goal apiece. Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host, was eliminated in qualifying for next year’s tournament after Iran’s victory ensured Qatar can finish no higher than fourth place in the final round of Asia qualifying.
Armenia 4, Denmark 0 — Denmark’s hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals are all but over after it slumped to a dismal home defeat to Armenia in a qualifier. Armenia striker Yura Movsisyan opened the scoring within 30 seconds of the kickoff after Denmark’s Simon Kjaer accidentally passed the ball to him. Aras Ozbiliz made it 2-0 in the 19th minute, sending his shot past goalkeeper Stephan Andersen after a mistake by an increasingly error-prone Denmark defense. Movsisyan added a third in the 59th minute and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored in the 81st minute. Group leader Italy has 12 points, Bulgaria 10, Czech Republic nine and Armenia six.
Sweden 2, Faeroe Islands 0 — Sweden won at home over the Faeroe Islands as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the 35th minute and converted a penalty kick in the 82d, giving him 41 goals in 90 international appearances. Germany (5-0-1) leads Group C with 16 points, five points ahead of Austria, Sweden and Ireland (all 3-1-2).
Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata scored second-half goals to lead World Cup champion Spain to a 2-0 victory over Ireland in an exhibition match at Yankee Stadium . . . Italy was held to a 2-2 tie by Haiti at Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Confederations Cup, with goals by Emanuele Giaccherini in the first minute and Claudio Marchisio in the 73d building a lead before Olrish Saurel’s 85th-minute penaltu kick and Jean Phillipe Peguero’s goal in the second-minute of stoppage time . . . The Netherlands won, 2-0, at China on Robin Van Persie’s 12th-minute penalty kick and Wesley Sneijder’s 66th-minute goal.