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United States U20s close in on World Cup berth with 1-0 win over Mexico

Erik Palmer-Brown’s 29th minute goal held up in the win

MLS: Sporting KC at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Palmer-Brown scored in the 29th minute and the United States U20 team made the goal stand up in a dominant performance over Mexico on Monday.

The Sporting Kansas City midfielder’s strike came off a corner kick from Brooks Lennon the team captain headed with pace toward the far post. Mexico defender Diego Cortés got a leg on the shot right at the goal line but deflected it into the opposite corner of the net.

Playing with the lead, the U.S. continued to play on the front foot and create chances despite conceding the overall time of possession battle to their rivals. Substitute Jonathan Lewis used his speed to create a breakaway in the closing minutes, but Mexican keeper José Hernández was able to clear the danger. But Mexico didn’t have a late surge in them as the U.S. defense limited them to just three shots on the day and never looked uncomfortable.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann didn’t have to make a save to secure the clean sheet, the first of the tournament for the U.S. The back line again featured Real Salt Lake defender Justen Glad and Orlando City defender Tommy Redding at center back as Philadelphia Union defender Auston Trusty was an unused sub for the fourth straight game.

The win was the first for the U.S. over Mexico in the CONCACAF U20 Championship since 1986 and snapped a 20-game unbeaten streak for El Tri in the competition. The U.S. is now 2-8-0 all-time against Mexico in a competition they’ve won three straight times.

It also put the Yanks in great position to not only clinch a World Cup berth against El Salvador on Friday (the top two teams in the three-team Group D clinch) but to also advance to the final for the first time since 2013.

El Salvador plays Mexico on Thursday in the other Group D classification stage match. The winner of Group D will face the winner of Group E in the final on March 5.