The Josh Sargent hype train has officially left the station.
The 17-year old striker’s superb goal in the 34th minute led the U.S. Under-20 MNT to a 1-0 victory over Senegal in their second game of the group stage.
The Americans got off to a much better start than they did in their first match against Ecuador. They started off on the front foot – playing with energy and controlling the game.
The chances started to come around the half hour mark. In the 29th minute, Eryk Williamson got the ball at the top of the box. The University of Maryland midfielder tried to place the ball into the far corner but he pushed his shot wide of the far post.
A minute later, Sargent slipped the ball into Tyler Adams’ path inside the 18 yard box, but the Red Bulls product was challenged as his tame shot dribbled into the hands of Mouhamed M’Baye.
The breakthrough came in the 34th minute, with Sargent rising to the occasion once again. Adams flicked the ball through two defenders to Luca de la Torre, who centered the ball to Sargent. The Missouri native turned onto his left foot and blasted the ball home past M’Baye to open the scoring.
The US almost got a second goal before the half from a Real Salt Lake connection. Brooks Lennon swung in a deep cross from the right wing, but Danny Acosta’s sliding volley at the far post went wide.
With a much-improved defensive effort after the Ecuador game, the Americans only surrendered a couple of half-chances to the Senegalese in the second half. In the 55th minute, a leaping Derrick Jones blocked Waly Diouf’s close range half volley. 84 minutes into the game, Habib Gueye slipped behind Danny Acosta at the far post as a cross came in. His open header, however, sailed harmlessly into the side netting.
Senegal won a corner kick in the dying seconds of the game. The ball met the head of Ibrahima Niane, but his header flew over the crossbar seconds before final whistle sounded.
It was not pretty, but the US defeated a Senegal side that many belive to be better than the one that reached the semi-finals in 2015. With four points in two games, the Americans have all but qualified for the knockout stages and can begin to dream of things to come.