PANAMA CITY, Panama, June 8 (UPI) -- Carlos Bocanegra scored in the eighth minute Wednesday night as the United States neared a World Cup berth by defeating Panama, 3-0.
Team USA reached the midway point of its 10-game, six-team qualifying tournament with 12 points, one behind Mexico. The top three teams will be a part of the 32-team field at next year's World Cup in Germany.
The Americans are eight points in front of fourth-place Guatemala, which lost to Costa Rica Wednesday night, 3-2. Costa Rica is in third place with seven points.
With five games remaining in the tournament, the United States probably needs just one more victory to ensure another trip to the World Cup. Team USA reached the quarterfinals in 2002 before losing to eventual champion Germany.
Mexico, meanwhile, defeated Trinidad & Tobago, 2-0. It took 65 minutes for the Mexicans to get on the scoreboard.