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USA beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 Wednesday night to move into 1st place in the World Cup Qualifying

Landon Donovan, center, of the U.S. dribbles past Hayden Tinto (L) of Trinidad and Tobago during their World Cup qualifier match. (Bertrand de Peaza / Getty Images / September 10, 2009)

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — Just one more win will give the United States its sixth straight World Cup berth.

Ricardo Clark scored in the 62nd minute, and the United States beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 Wednesday night to move into first place in World Cup qualifying.

"It's huge. It's huge. It gives a little bit of space when things are getting tight in our group," Clark said. "We knew we had to come out in this game and get a win."

The United States failed to win its first three road qualifiers this year and played a listless first half. The Americans went ahead when Clint Dempsey played the ball wide to Landon Donovan, who cut the ball back to Clark.

Clark took a touch and let loose a bending 26-yard shot that swerved past goalkeeper Clayton Ince. It was just the second goal in 25 international appearances for the Houston Dynamo midfielder, who also scored against Paraguay in the Copa America two years ago.

He had an important fan in the stands — his father, Lance, who was born in Trinidad.

"It was special to score a goal while he was watching," Clark said. "I just let it rip, and I hit it on frame and it went in,"

Donovan also assisted on both U.S. goals in Saturday's 2-1 win over El Salvador at Sandy, Utah. He holds American career records with 41 goals and 41 assists in 118 international appearances.

"He's just a machine out there, man. He's on his game," Clark said. "He's just a big-time player doing big-time things."

The United States (5-2-1) leads the final round of North and Central American and Caribbean qualifying with 16 points, one ahead of Mexico (5-3), three in front of Honduras (4-3-1) and four ahead Costa Rica (4-4). The results of Wednesday's other two games helped the Americans, with Mexico beating visiting Honduras 1-0 and Costa Rica losing 1-0 at El Salvador.

"This was a very important three points," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "I felt that it was well earned because it was a difficult game. We spoke at halftime and we understood what kind of a game we were in. We raised the level in the second half."

The U.S. could clinch when it plays at Honduras on Oct. 10. The Americans close four days later at home against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C.

"Honduras in Honduras is going to be a very different story than tonight," Donovan said.

The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, and the No. 4 nation goes to a playoff against the fifth-place team in South America.

At the time Clark scored, Bradley was getting ready to replace him with Stuart Holden.

"I had a feeling that it was going to be me," Clark said.

Bradley then decided to leave Clark in. Holden entered for Dempsey in the 82nd.

Trinidad, which made its first World Cup appearance in 2006, was mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the 32-nation field in South Africa next year. The Soca Warriors had an early chance, but goalkeeper Tim Howard scrambled to save Kenwyne Jones' header in the 27th minute. Two minutes later, Cornell Glen lobbed a ball over Howard that hit the crossbar and bounded away.

"The sound of crossbar is the best sound in the world — I'm telling you," Howard said, who called it a "turning point" in the match.

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