Despite being down 1-0 after just nine minutes, it's three points and top of the group for the United States after one match at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Facing Myanmar in their Group A opener, Tab Ramos' team looked ripe to be upset after Myanmar's Yan Naing Oo was first to a loose ball following a poorly defended corner kick, sweeping the ball home as the US came under pressure early. Those visions only lasted eight minutes.
Maki Tall equalized in the 17th minute to assuage American concerns that another group-stage exit might be on the cards, and Emerson Hyndman calmly scored the winner 11 minutes after halftime, just one minute after Gedion Zelalem came on to make his second U-20 appearance.
- US coach Tab Ramos: U-20 World Cup opener vs. Myanmar is "a must-win"
Myanmar did not make it easy for the Americans, making up for their noticeable size disadvantage with neat combination play, but they struggled to defend the US on set pieces, and a corner kick led to Tall's equalizer in the 17th minute. Hyndman, named captain of the team after Russell Canouse was forced to withdraw because of injury, found center back Cameron Carter-Vickers with an inswinging cross that was flicked to the back post, where Tall half-vollied acrobatically.
Hyndman nearly had the second in 50th, when Jordan Allen's cross fell to his feet in the six-yard box. Facing away from goal, the Fulham midfielder backheeled the ball toward the bottom corner, but Myanmar goalkeeper Myo Min Latt was there to smother the opportunity.
However, Latt could do nothing in the 56th minute when a long US clearance fell to Utrecht forward Rubio Rubin in the left channel to kickstart a lightning fast counter attack. Rubin advanced the ball, allowing Hyndman time to ghost into the penalty area, and one pass unlocked the defense and set up a simple finish for the former FC Dallas academy star.
In all, six current MLS players took the field for the US: FC Dallas defender Kellyn Acosta, Toronto FC midfielder Marky Delgado, Real Salt Lake midfielder Allen, San Jose attacker Tommy Thompson and Galaxy forward Bradford Jamieson IV.
In Group A's other match, hosts New Zealand and Ukraine battled to scoreless draw to leave the American alone atop the table on three points. The US take on New Zealand on Tuesday (3 am ET, Fox Sports 1).
MYA - Yan Naing Oo 9
USA - Maki Tall (Cameron Carter-Vickers) 17
USA - Emerson Hyndman (Rubio Rubin) 56
USA: Zack Steffen; Shaquell Moore, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta; Marky Delgado, Joel Soñora (Gedion Zelalem 55), Jordan Allen (Tommy Thompson 72), Emerson Hyndman; Rubio Rubin, Maki Tall (Bradford Jamieson IV 49).
Subs Not Used: Thomas Olsen, Jeff Caldwell, Desevio Payne, Erik Palmer-Brown, John Requejo, Paul Arriola, Conor Donovan