COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fabian Johnson took over at right back and Clarence Goodson was inserted into central defense as U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made major changes to his starting lineup when the Americans tried to clinch a World Cup berth against Mexico on Tuesday night.
Tim Howard remained in goal, with Omar Gonzalez joining Goodson in central defense and DaMarcus Beasley at left back. Fabian Johnson played right back for the U.S. for the first time since the 1-0 exhibition win at Mexico City in August 2012, the first U.S. victory at Azteca Stadium.
Jermaine Jones and Beckerman were in the defensive midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as they were during the Azteca Stadium game last year. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan were ahead of them, and Eddie Johnson was the lone forward.
Klinsmann was forced to make changes because of suspensions for defender Matt Besler, midfielder Geoff Cameron and forward Jozy Altidore caused by yellow card accumulation. In addition, midfielder Michael Bradley was sidelined with a sprained ankle.
Right back Michael Orosco and midfielder Graham Zusi went to the bench.
Seeking its seventh straight World Cup berth, the United States would clinch with a win and a victory by Honduras against Panama or a tie in a match scheduled to start one hour later.
Luis Fernando Tena, who replaced Chepo de la Torre as Mexico's coach following Friday's 2-1 home loss to Honduras, made four changes. The biggest was the insertion of Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez, who was a second-half sub against the Catrachos.
Midfielders Andres Guardado and Jesus Zavala also joined the starting lineup along with right back Hiram Mier. Jesus Coruna remained in goal, with Diego Reyes and Hector Moreno in central defense, and Carlos Salcido at left back, Fernando Arce, and Christian Gimenez in the midfield and Giovani dos Santos at forward.
Midfielder Gerardo Torrado was suspended after receiving a yellow card Friday.
Mexico is in danger of finishing fourth in the six-nation final round of North and Central America and the Caribbean, which would force it into a playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand.
The referee was Courtney Campbell of Jamaica.
During "The Star-Spangled Banner," the crowd of about 25,000 at Columbus Crew Stadium was so noisy that singer Kayleigh Schofield had to adjust her tempo to the fans.
Columbus was picked for the game following U.S. victories over Mexico by identical 2-0 scores in qualifiers in 2001, 2005 and 2009 at Crew Stadium. Fans greeted El Tri players with loud chants of "Dos a cero!" and "You're Not Going to Brazil!"