- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SANDY, Utah — As goaltender Tim Howard looks out from in front of the U.S. net, he likes what he sees: the scoring of striker Jozy Altidore, the ball control of the midfielders and the steadiness of the defense.

Oh, yeah, and like the rest of his teammates, he also can see a spot in next year’s World Cup there for the taking.

Altidore scored a goal in his fourth consecutive international match, and it was enough for the United States to edge Honduras 1-0 in a World Cup qualifying match Tuesday night.

Before 20,250 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Americans remained atop the six-team CONCACAF group. The U.S. (4-1-1) has won three straight games this month, all since a 0-0 draw at Mexico gave it a boost toward the top.

Honduras (2-3-1, 7 points) did little to threaten the Americans offensively before and after the game’s only goal in the 73rd minute. It marked the fourth time in six games the U.S. earned a shutout.

“Every time we get a clean sheet, we feel like the best players in the world,” Howard said. “We’ve been on a roll. It’s good for the young guys in the back. It gets us feeling good about ourselves. Every time we have a good performance, we put it in our back pocket and save it.”

With four games remaining, the Americans are in excellent shape to qualify for their seventh successive World Cup. They have road games at Costa Rica and Panama, and home games with Mexico and Jamaica.

The top three teams in CONCACAF qualifying move directly to Brazil 2014, and the fourth-place team will face a playoff against New Zealand.

“We’re trying to keep our feet on the ground, of course,” Howard said. “But going back over the last 15-20 years, we know what points total gets you to the World Cup. So it’s been a hugely successful summer.”

And summer hasn’t even begun.

Honduras was the last team to win at the United States in a World Cup qualifying match, back in 2001. The Americans have won or drawn 25 straight at home since then.

The visitors made it difficult on the Americans for much of the game, slowing the pace before Altidore broke through.

After several second-half near misses, the U.S. got its goal when Altidore took a cross by Fabian Johnson from near the end line and put it past goalkeeper Noel Valladares inside the right post.

It was Altidore’s ninth goal in a qualifier as he finally develops into the scoring threat the United States has hoped for.

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