USA’s qualification – its seventh straight finals appearance – was confirmed when Honduras and Panama drew 2-2 about an hour later.
Costa Rica also claimed one of the three automatic places in the Concacaf group‚ but Mexico now face a battle to even finish fourth in the qualifying group – the team in that spot will face a two-leg playoff against the winners of the Oceania qualifying group‚ New Zealand.
Honduras are currently in position to claim the third automatic qualification place‚ leading Mexico by three points with two games remaining.
Eddie Johnson headed home a Landon Donovan corner in the 49th minute to open the scoring in Columbus.
Donovan scored the second from close range in the 78th after a good run and cut back from substitute Mikkel Diskerud.
The victory moved the US to the top of the Concacaf qualification group with 16 points from eight of a scheduled 10 games‚ a point ahead of Costa Rica‚ who drew 1-1 in Jamaica.
Panama currently sit in the fourth spot‚ ahead of Mexico on goals scored‚ with eight points from eight games.