Clint Dempsey scored his fourth goal in two games as the United States were held to a 1-1 draw in a hard-fought Concacaf World Cup qualifying battle with Panama on Tuesday.

Dempsey, who scored a hat-trick on his return to international football against Honduras last week, tucked away a 39th-minute goal for the US after a superb run by Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic.

But American hopes of a precious away victory to follow last week's 6-0 drubbing of Honduras were dashed after they conceded a soft equaliser through Gabriel Gomez on 43 minutes.

A speculative long throw into the US penalty area caused confusion amongst the American defence which failed to clear the danger.

The loose ball fell kindly to Gomez who jabbed home his finish past Howard.

It was a frustrating defensive lapse by the US, who had started brightly in sweltering conditions at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

Pulisic had created the opening US goal, twisting and turning his way cleverly past Panama captain Felipe Baloy and Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres before laying off for Dempsey to finish.

US chances were thin on the ground thereafter, and Panama came closest to scoring the game's next goal midway through the second half.

Torres knocked down for Luis Tejada in the American area and only a superb reflex save from Tim Howard denied Panama a goal.

Tejada had another half-chance in the closing stages, but blasted his shot high over the bar after being played into space by Luis Ovalle.

The draw left Panama in third place in the Concacaf qualifying standings with five points from four games. The US are fourth with four points from four games.

Mexico tightened their grip on the "hexagonal" standings with a 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain.

A maiden international goal from Diego Reyes sealed all three points for Mexico, who remain unbeaten at the top of the six-team qualifying competition for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Mexico now have 10 points from four games, leading from Costa Rica, who could only manage a draw against last placed Honduras on Tuesday.