The U.S. Under-20s booked their place in the round of 16 at the FIFA World Youth Championships with a 1-0 victory Saturday over Egypt in Enschede, Holland.
Coupled with Germany's 1-0 defeat to Argentina, Saturday's win leaves the U.S. in first place in Group D at the end of the group stage. They'll play Italy on Tuesday in Enschede at 11:30 a.m. ET.
As in the squad's landmark victory over Argentina a week ago, the U.S. needed just one goal to get a result from their solid all-around play. Forward Jacob Peterson, making his third appearance but just his first start of tournament, scored the match's only goal in the 56th minute by heading home a deflected shot from D.C. United midfielder Freddy Adu.
Peterson wasn't the only new face in the starting lineup. With passage into the next round of the competition all but assured, head coach Sigi Schmid opted to rest several stars for the beginning of the match, including Adu, MetroStar Eddie Gaven and Fire striker Chad Barrett. Columbus Crew midfielder Danny Szetela and Chicago Fire forward Will John both were selected to start by Schmid, as were midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Lee Nguyen and defender Brad Evans.
The opening minutes of the match were uneasy for the U.S., who gave the ball away often in the game's early stages. Fortunately for Schmid's charges, the Egyptians were unable to turn those giveaways into scoring chances. Around the 15-minute mark, the U.S. began to exert their control over the game and got their first look at the goal as Colorado Rapids defender Hunter Freeman lofted a chip toward the goal box for John. John settled the ball down toward Peterson, but Egyptian 'keeper Hamada Shaaban got to it first.
With the U.S. working their way toward dominating possession, it didn't seem like they would need any help to gain the points they needed to move on, but they got it anyway thanks to the referees' strict enforcement of fair play rules at the tournament. Egyptian defender Ahmed Gamil, who had received a yellow card in the 25th minute for pushing prior to a corner kick, was sent off with a second yellow in the 35th for knocking away the ball after giving away a free kick to the U.S.
Just before halftime, the U.S. turned up the pressure and nearly got the opener as defender Nathan Sturgis chipped the ball to Evans in the middle of the box, but Evans' powerful header was tipped over the bar. Just after the break, the Americans had equally bright opportunities through Szetela, but the 18-year-old's low drives were all turned back by either the Egyptian defense or 'keeper.
Seven minutes into the second stanza, Egypt nearly got an unlikely go-ahead goal, but after Mahmoud Abdelrazek laid the ball off for Abdallah Said to have a shot, U.S. 'keeper Quentin Westberg rushed out to make a kick save.
Adu entered the match in the 55th minute and brightened the U.S. team's play in his opening minutes on the field. In fact, it took only one minute for Adu to help the U.S. take the lead. Peterson started the scoring play with a clever backheel on the right that freed Szetela to carry the ball into the box, and after the U.S. worked the ball to Adu on the left side of the area, the 16-year-old took a shot that a defender stabbed with his foot. Following the play into the box, Peterson rose highest to the floating ball and powered home a header.
With a lead and a man advantage, the U.S. continued to dominate possession, allowing Egypt only brief spurts of attack. A second U.S. goal nearly came through a long range strike from Kljestan with 12 minutes left, but Shaaban was up to the task, and the U.S. finished the match satisfied with their one-goal win.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.