SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – With a big pro-American crowd cheering from start to finish, Landon Donovan and Kasey Keller took big steps toward putting the United States in next year’s World Cup.

Donovan regained his scoring touch with goals in the sixth and 62nd minutes, Keller came up with three huge saves and the United States beat Costa Rica 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier Saturday night.

Brian McBride added his 27th international goal in the 87th minute, scoring off the rebound of a shot by Clint Dempsey, who had taken a feed from Donovan.

After getting booed in Birmingham, Ala., during its 2-0 win over Guatemala in March, the United States got the red-white-and-blue clad crowd it was hoping to see for its first game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The biggest sporting event in Salt Lake City since the 2002 Winter Olympics drew 40,586 fans to the stadium, at the foot of the snowcapped Wasatch Mountains.

Donovan, much happier since he left Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen this spring and joined Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy, now has 21 goals in 63 international appearances, a key factor in helping the United States as it tries to reach its fifth straight World Cup.

The United States (3-1) temporarily moved into first place in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region with nine points, two ahead of Mexico (2-0-1), which played later at Guatemala (1-1-1). Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago (1-2-1), which beat Panama 2-0, have four points each. Panama (0-2-2), which hosts the United States on Wednesday, trails with two points.

Donovan put the United States ahead early, ending a five-game scoreless streak since he had two goals against Panama in October. He fed Steve Ralston, who played the ball into the penalty area before it deflected off Gilberto Martinez. From about 16 yards out, Donovan beat goalkeeper Alvaro Mesen, giving him a goal or an assist in 11 of 12 qualifiers for next year’s tournament.

Costa Rica played physically, repeatedly knocking down DaMarcus Beasley, who was playing for the first time since partially tearing a left knee ligament on April 29.

It wasn’t until the 38th minute that Costa Rica had its first shot, and Douglas Sequiera beat Keller in the 40th only to have the apparent goal disallowed because teammate Alonso Solis was offside.

Keller made two key saves early in the second half, stopping Jafet Soto by going to his right in the 47th, then just getting his left hand to bat away Soto in the 60th.

Josh Wolff started the play that led to the second goal with a great cross to McBride, whose glancing header forced Mesen to make a sprawling save. The ball bounded across to the far post, where Donovan tapped it in.

Keller then made a great one-on-one stop on Soto in the 69th.

Notes: McBride served as U.S. captain in the absence of Claudio Reyna, taking a break after an injury-filled season in England. … Sequiera was ejected in second-half injury time. He and Steven Bryce are suspended for Wednesday’s game against Guatemala. … U.S. D Oguchi Onyewu (sprained knee), D Cory Gibbs (bruised knee) and F Eddie Johnson (bone bruise on toe) didn’t dress.

AP-ES-06-04-05 2137EDT


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