The United States ended a seven-game winless streak, dominating Canada 3-0 Sunday in the Americans' home opener in the final round of qualifying for the 1998 World Cup.
Eric Wynalda scored on a penalty kick in the eighth minute, his record 29th goal for the U.S. team, and Eddie Pope headed in the second goal in the 14th, when David Wagner flicked Jeff Agoos' corner kick to him. Ernie Stewart got the final goal in the 89th, taking a pass from Michael Mason and finishing a two-on-one.
"I feel like we are slowly making progress," said U.S. coach Steve Sampson, whose team failed to score in its first qualifying match, a 0-0 tie with Jamaica.
"At times our play was very good and other times it was inconsistent, but we got three points," he said after the game before 28,897 at Stanford Stadium.
Mexico (1-0-1), which beat Canada 4-0 two weeks ago, leads the six-nation group on goal difference after a scoreless tie Sunday at Costa Rica. The Americans are second, followed by Costa Rica and Jamaica (both 0-0-1). El Salvador has not started play, and Canada (0-2) is last.
The top three nations advance to the 32-team field in France.
The United States (1-0-1) plays Sunday at Costa Rica, where several U.S. players were hit with thrown objects during a semifinal-round game Dec. 1.
Stewart will miss that game. He was given his second yellow card of qualifying during the second half and must serve a one-game suspension.
The Americans came out firing on all cylinders and Wynalda might have had a hat trick in the first 15 minutes. Twice he was open on the far post for right-wing crosses from Stewart but headed wide, then volleyed past the post.
Canadian coach Bob Lenarduzzi was frank. "We didn't compete for most of the first half, and that was no good, especially after we were hammered 4-0 two weeks ago (in Mexico)."