The United States under-20 men’s national team earned their first win at the World Cup on Thursday. A lone Josh Sargent first half goal was enough to see off Senegal, 1-0. With the victory, the U.S. shoot to the top of their group’s standings heading into the final match against Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Unlike against Ecuador, the Baby Yanks got off to a much more stable start against Senegal. The additions of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Derrick Jones to the starting lineup really calmed everything down in the back and made for a more structured team shape.
Senegal were dangerous in the opening half down the wings, but the Americans did well to recover when beaten and not allow any really dangerous chances. Most of their activity and excitement would come from beating the U.S. fullbacks with pace, but it would usually result in a poor ball into the box and an eventual loss of possession.
The U.S. enjoyed most of the first half scoring chances with their methodical build-up play and rare counter-attacks. Tyler Adams had the best chance in the opening half-hour as Sargent played him in with a ball, but pressure from behind caused a tame shot that went into the goalkeeper’s grasp.
Finally, the Yanks’ good play paid off with a scintillating goal. Build-up from the right flank saw Adams play in Luca de la Torre with a lovely backheel flick. The Fulham youngster then centered for Sargent who took his first touch brilliantly, spun onto his left foot and lashed a perfect finish across his body and into the back of the net for his third goal of the tournament.
After the goal, the U.S. defense continued to hold well under pressure. They almost doubled their lead with the last kick off the ball as a counter attack resulted with a cross to the far post, but De la Torre’s sliding effort just went wide.
The second half saw a lot of ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality for the American back line. They continued to get beat on the wings, but Senegal couldn’t create much. They finally got a solid chance in the 84th minute when a cross to the far post wasn’t dealt with properly. A header at goal was only able to find side-netting.
Four minutes of stoppage time were dealt with superbly by the U.S. as they continued to frustrate Senegal and finished off the very admirable performance to secure the win.