On a rain-soaked night in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, the US men's Under-20 national team got their first win of the 2019 World Cup. Sebastian Soto provided both goals as the US beat Nigeria 2-0.
After dominating much of the match from the run of play, the US found their first goal in the 18th minute goal off a corner, as an Alex Mendez cross found Soto all alone on the backpost. The Real Salt Lake academy product calmly finished with his head to give his team the lead.
The Hannover striker scored his second of the match off the kickoff in the second half. Chris Gloster, his teammate at the club level, made a streaking run forward from his left back spot and played a throughball with the outside of his left foot. Soto's stutter step fooled the Nigerian goalkeeper and he finished into an empty net with his right foot.
Mendez almost had his second assist of the match three minutes after Soto scored his first, as he played a beautiful throughball to Tim Weah, but the winger was unable to finish past Olawale Oremade. The US thought they had stretched their lead to two in the 30th minute off another Soto goal, but Aboubacar Keita was ruled to have been offside off a cross.
The first half finished with a flurry of chances as Nigeria found their footing. First-half substitute Aniekeme Okon blasted a volley that forced Brady Scott into a difficult save. Maxwell Effiom's shot from distance clanged off the crossbar two minutes later, while Weah had two more chances of his own.
Bayern Munich center back Chris Richards was forced off with a foot injury in the 60th minute as the Philadelphia Union's Mark McKenzie replaced him. It was McKenzie's first action of the tournament since being named captain, as he has been battling injuries.
Nigeria thought they had earned a penalty in the 65th minute, but it was called back after a Nigerian player was ruled to have been offside. They failed to create many quality chances after missing that opportunity.
- THE BIG PICTURE: After an opening-match loss, Tab Ramos' team came into Monday knowing a win was important — though not necessary — if his team wanted to advance to the knockout stage. The win means a draw against Qatar — the weakest team in Group D — would almost assuredly clinch a spot in the Round of 16, while a win could see them top the group.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: After a strong end to the first half, Nigeria must have hoped to find the equalizer early in the second. But they didn't even get a chance to touch the ball before going down two.
WHAT. A. GOAL. ⚡️⚡️— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 27, 2019
Sebastian Soto scores his second of the game and doubles the USMNT's lead 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/uOsBAKvZwx
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Soto earns the nod for his finishing touch, but FC Dallas' Paxton Pomykal deserves a mention after having a strong match in the midfield.
- USA: Thursday, May 30 vs. Qatar (2:30 pm ET | FS2, NBC Universo)
- NIG: Thursday, May 30 vs. Ukraine (2:30 pm ET | FOX Soccer Plus)