3 thoughts on USA’s 1–1 draw with Saudi Arabia in the U-20 World Cup

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The United States U-20 men’s national team earned a 1–1 draw with Saudi Arabia in its final group game at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

With the result, the USA received a vital point to top the group with 5 points from its three matches (1–2–0).

Next up: New Zealand. But first, let’s take a look back at a few quick thoughts the result that took place at 3 a.m. MDT in the United States (though, of course, it was played in South Korea).

Brooks Lennon finally gets his goal.

The Real Salt Lake winger has been very good for his country in the first two games of the World Cup. The 19-year-old accumulated two assists in the 3–3 draw with Ecuador, and was dangerous in multiple spots on the field in the 1–0 win over Senegal.

With the USA needing a goal, Lennon found his goal-scoring boots, too. Luca de la Torre had a shot on goal from inside the six-yard box, but when his attempt was saved down, Lennon pounded and picked up his first goal of the tournament to give the USA a 1–0 lead in the 41st minute.

A well-deserved goal.

The United States topped the group.

Celebrate, U.S. Fans; you cheer for a group winner at a World Cup.

It wasn’t a pretty final match, with the late goal and a host of fouls and cautions that included a soft red given to Cameron Carter-Vickers.

But at the end of the 1–1 draw, the United States took first place out of its group — something U.S. Soccer has only done four times in U-20 World Cup history.

Of course, that by itself is a minor miracle; because Ecuador and Senegal played to a 0 — 0 draw, the United States topped their group for the fourth time in U-20 World Cup history. In two of those instances, the USA advanced to the quarterfinals.

So, in a sense, the United States backed into winning its group. Or they didn’t lose a match, and therefore deserve to go through as the No. 1 team (depending on your half-glass-full perspective).

Either way, the Round of 16 awaits … with a caution.

Knockout Round secure, but the United States is hurting.

The Yanks secured a berth in the Round of 16 before the match even started, thanks to a few favorable results from other groups as they wrapped up the final round of the stage.

And even when Lennon’s goal gave the USMNT a 1–0 lead in the 41st minute, they couldn’t celebrate long; Carter-Vickers’ second yellow card saw him sent off for the final 45 minutes, and he’ll miss the USA’s Round of 16 match for suspension.

Derrick Jones and Aaron Herrera had already been ruled ineligible for the Baby Yanks thanks to yellow card accumulation, so a side that was already thin following the injury to Gedion Zelalem was made even slimmer for the next stage.

There was some good news, though: Justen Glad, the Real Salt Lake center back who has seen time sparingly in reserve as he works back from an injury, played the final 45 minutes on a make-shift back line for the 10-man U.S. Side, and he could see extended minutes in the side’s knockout stage opener against New Zealand. The winner will face Venezuela or Japan in the quarterfinals, which is still an attainable goal for the Yanks.