After beating arch rival Mexico 2-0 in Columbus, Ohio, the Americans got the other result they needed an hour later when Honduras drew 2-2 at home with Panama. The combination of the two results ensures the U.S. will finish in the top three of CONCACAF's final round and automatically qualifies them for next summer's finals in Brazil.
Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan scored second-half goals to beat El Tri by the same score for the fourth consecutive qualifier in Columbus. Combined with Costa Rica being pegged back late at Jamaica, the United States now leads the qualifying group on 16 points. The Costa Ricans, with 15 points, also have qualified for Brazil; they are seven points ahead of both Mexico and Panama with two matches left.
Panama's late equalizer now throws the final qualifying spot and the race for the playoff against New Zealand into a scramble. Honduras is three points ahead of both of the others, and retains control of its own fate for the final full qualifying spot. Mexico hosts Panama in the next match for both teams, while Honduras hosts Costa Rica.
The scramble for the final spot(s) could take an interesting turn with both the Americans and Costa Ricans already qualified. The Ticos play at Honduras next before hosting Mexico in the finale, while the Americans go to Panama in the final match. It's possible that the U.S. could help knock Mexico entirely out of the World Cup in that final matchday. ABNOS: Torres golazo leads Panama to draw, helps U.S. qualify