The U-20 USMNT is already well on their way to advancing into the knockout stage by winning their first group stage game of the tournament, defeating Myanmar 2-1. With New Zealand and Ukraine drawing 1-1, the USA leads the group as the only team with a win.
It wasn’t all that easy for the USMNT. In the beginning of the game, Myanmar really pressured the team and their defending and goaltending left a lot to be desired. Myanmar’s pressure rewarded them very early with the first goal of the game. Yan Naing Oo put away the Myanmar goal in the 9th minute to take the lead 1-0.
With the USMNT suffering a deficit early, they got things together very quickly as they scored a few minutes after. Maki Tall equalized in the 17th minute from a Cameron Carter-Vickers assist. Tall really had to extend himself on the back post to get the goal.
While he didn’t start, Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem entered the game as a substitute in the 55th minute. While he didn’t get on the scoreboard, it definitely looked like there’s something there. It’s pretty unfair to judge him based off of 35 minutes of play so let’s just say I look forward to see more.
The game winning goal turned out to be a textbook counterattack that was set to perfection. As the USMNT tried to make a two on three play work. As Emerson Hyndman made his run from deep to get into the play, Bradford Jamieson IV got closer to Rubio Rubin, who had the ball, and acted as a decoy to get all three Myanmar defenders to all be together and leave the running Hyndman wide open with half the field to shoot. Hyndman buried it home and that sealed the deal on a 2-1 win for the USMNT.
All in all, the USMNT seemed like they tried to win with the lowest amount of effort possible. They may have felt Myanmar wasn’t going to be a serious opponent and didn’t really play at 100%. In the beginning, they looked less alert and was more prone to mistakes. Once Myanmar scored, that was like giving the team smelling salts and that got the USMNT into gear and they realized that they actually had to compete to get the win. For the other 81 minutes, they played like the team they were supposed to be and took control. They were fortunate and got the win but they can’t do that in future games and expect the same fate.