A United States team reduced to ten men sealed top spot in Group E of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday with a 1-1 tie with Saudi Arabia in Daejeon, South Korea. A Brooks Lennon first-half goal secured the vital point for the U.S. to set up a second-round showdown with New Zealand on June 1.
The Americans took the lead five minutes before the break. Luca de la Torre saw his shot saved but Brooks slotted home the rebound from close range.
Central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers was sent off on the stroke of half-time for a second bookable offence.
Saudi Arabia struggled to take advantage of its extra man though U.S. goalkeeper Johnathan Klinsmann saved well from a fierce Abdulrahman Al Yani shot midway through the second half.
Klinsmann could do little about the equalizer that came after 74 minutes. Abdullah Al Amri was left unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box to meet Sami Al Naji’s right-sided corner with a powerful header into the far corner.
The Saudis pushed forward in search of victory but were left frustrated. The U.S. took first place in the group with five points, one ahead of Senegal who tied Ecuador 0-0.
Saudi Arabia was third and also progresses to the last 16 ahead of Argentina as the fourth of the four best third-placed finishers that progress along with the top two teams from each of the six groups.
In Group E, France maintained its perfect record with a 2-0 win over New Zealand. Monaco winger Allan Saint-Maximin scored both goals.
France will take on Italy on June 1 for a place in the last eight.
New Zealand stayed in second with Honduras moving into third with a 2-0 win over Vietnam though the Central Americans are eliminated. The final takes place on June 11 in Suwon.