US Under-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos called Senegal a contender to win the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. But they had no answer for the USA on Thursday.
Inspired by New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams, the US U-20s defeated the Senegalese 1-0 at Incheon Stadium in South Korea, taking them to the top of Group F and in prime position to advance to the Round of 16.
The winning goal in the 34th minute started with a deft heel flick by Adams which released wide midfielder Luca de la Torre on the right side of the box. De la Torre was free to slot a ball to striker Joshua Sargent, who spun his defender in the box and finished with a left-footed strike for his third goal in two matches.
The USA were the more goal-dangerous team in the match, mainly in the first half, and they were also rarely troubled defensively by Senegal as the center back pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown calmly extinguished most threats with goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann seeing little action.
In front of the back line, Philadelphia Union central midfielder Derrick Jones earned his first start of the tournament in place of Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem, who suffered a left knee injury in the opener that will keep him out of the tournament. Alongside influential D.C. United academy product Eryk Williamson, Jones patrolled the midfield with authority despite only being cleared by FIFA to join the USA before the tournament given his previous participation in Ghana's youth national team set-up.
Real Salt Lake fans will be encouraged by the appearance of Justen Glad, who came on to play the final seven minutes to seal the result for his first action since picking up a knee injury in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match in March.
Coupled with Saudi Arabia's 2-1 win over Ecuador in the other Group F match on Thursday, the USA sit at the top of their group after two matches and will look to cement their spot in the Round of 16 on Sunday in Daejeon when they take on Saudi Arabia (5 am ET on FS1).
USA - 34' Sargent (De la Torre, Adams)
USA Lineup (4-4-1-1, left to right): #1 Jonathan Klinsmann -- #3 Danny Acosta, #5 Erik Palmer-Brown, #16 Cameron Carter-Vickers, #14 Aaron Herrera -- #20 Luca de la Torre (90' #13 Lagos Kunga), #18 Derrick Jones, #7 Eryk Williamson (83' #6 Justen Glad), #17 Brooks Lennon -- #8 Tyler Adams -- #19 Joshua Sargent (94'+ #15 Jeremy Ebobisse)
Senegal Lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): #1 Mouhamed Mbaye -- #4 Souleymane Aw, #6 Mamadou Diarra, #2 Waly Diouf, #3 Jean Ndecky -- #19 Bamba Kane, #5 Cavin Diagne (76' #20 Akhibou Ly) -- #11 Ibrahima Ndiaye, #17 Krepin Diatta, #7 Ibrahima Niane -- #10 Aliou Badji (79' #12 Habib Gueye)