formerly of D.C. United -- who curled in a left-footed cross towards the penalty spot. Ching redirected the ball off the back post and in to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
In the 11th minute U.S. forward Conor Casey challenged El Salvador goalkeeper Santos Rivera for a cross, Rivera getting the worst of the collision and needing several minutes of medical attention, though he would stay in the match.
The first and only chance for El Salvador came in the 23rd minute and was created by former MLS player Ronald Cerritos. He broke free on the right flank and centered to Jorge Rodriguez, but his shot was well wide of the goal.
The match took a chaotic turn midway through the half when Dennis Alas received a second yellow card -- reportedly for failing to remove a necklace -- and was given his marching orders by the referee. El Salvador's coach Juan Ramon Paredes was furious with the decision and made his feelings known as he charged off the bench to confront the match officials. Several El Salvador players had to restrain Paredes, who was eventually also dismissed by the referee.
Former Chicago Fire winger DaMarcus Beasley was having a field day on the left side as he attacked at will through pinpoint passing and speedy dribbles. In the 34th minute he gained the end line and cut a pass back to Casey on the ground. The German-based striker did well to put a flick on target, but Rivera also did well to scuttle across the face of the goal to turn the ball around the left post.
Donovan narrowly missed doubling the advantage in the 40th minute. He made a fine run down the right wing and cut inside to shoot with his left foot, but his bouncing effort skipped just wide of the post.
The U.S. continued to push forward while the visitors were limited to long, searching balls that rarely found their targets. After eight minutes of stoppage time the referee finally brought the half to a close and the U.S. trotted into the locker room with a one-goal advantage.
Casey was very much involved at the beginning of the second half. He fired a hard shot on goal that was right at the 'keeper, found himself in the referee's notebook after being cautioned for diving, and he served a good cross to Ching that the El Salvador defense had to clear for a corner kick.
The chaos ensued just before the hour mark when Rivera kicked Beasley in the head after a diving header attempt. Beasley missed the ball and hit the ground near the six-yard box. Rivera lifted his foot so that Beasley's head would collide with his cleats. Beasley's U.S. teammates were angered by the play, leading to pushing and shoving between the sides in the El Salvador goalmouth.
Donovan gave the U.S. a little breathing room in the 69th minute with a brilliant run and finish. He again stepped in from the right wing to create the opportunity. A simple left-footed finish to the back post extended the U.S. lead to 2-0.
Brian McBride, who played for the Columbus Crew from 1996-2003, came off the substitute's bench in the 77th minute to replace Casey. He immediately got involved, taking a shot that deflected off of a defender before narrowly dipping over the crossbar. McBride had a second chance moments later, Ching chesting a long pass down to set up the chance. But he was again unsuccessful, this time the shot whistling wide of the left post. It wouldn't matter in the end, though, as the U.S. held on for a comfortable victory.
Panama is next on the agenda for the Americans, as they travel to the Central American nation for the third game of the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying. That match is Wednesday night and can be seen live on Fox Sports World at 9 p.m. ET. El Salvador will host Jamaica in the other match in Group A that night.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.