After scoring two goals in the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s World Cup opener, Josh Sargent scored yet another on Thursday, and it ended up being a game-winner.
Sargent fired home the game’s lone goal, leading the U.S. to a 1-0 win over Senegal on Thursday. The 17-year-old forward powered home a left-footed finish after an excellent touch-and-turn that left him with a clear look at goal he took full advantage of.
The win ensures no worse than third-place finish in the group for the U.S., and four points all but assures a place in the knockout rounds of a tournament where 16 of 24 teams advance out of the group stage.
The U.S. broke through in the 34th minute as Sargent, Luca de la Torre and Tyler Adams combined for a well-worked team goal. Following a flick on from Adams, de la Torre squared a pass to the center of the penalty area. Sargent was there waiting, as he took a turn toward the back post. All that was left was a left-footed finish, and Sargent smashed the shot into the back of the net for his third goal of the tournament.
Just moments before halftime, the U.S. had a golden chance to double their lead, but Danny Acosta’s shot trickled just wide. Sargent had several opportunities in the second half, but saw one through ball roll just long before a 62nd minute shot was saved.
One of the better looks came through Brooks Lennon, whose free kick was pushed just over the bar in the 64th minute.
Senegal found its rhythm in the second half, pushing hard for an equalizer. The U.S. defense was largely up to the task. The return of Cameron Carter-Vickers provided a welcome boost as the defender slid in alongside Erik Palmer-Brown in the heart of the defense. Jonathan Klinsmann, fresh off a blunder in the opener, was better in the back, providing a steadier hand at the goalkeeper position.
Largely limited, Senegal continued to push as the game wore on but, following the introduction of Justen Glad, the Americans buckled down and defended. They were forced to grind, enduring several hard fouls from Senegal. With seconds left, a Senegal header was sent just over the bar before the final whistle blew as the U.S. saw out the game’s waning moments to seal a win.
The U.S. returns to action on Sunday to close the group stage against Saudi Arabia, which defeated Ecuador in the day’s earlier group-stage match. The Americans top the group, with Senegal in second place and Saudi Arabia in third place. Ecuador is in last place with one point, but