Mark McKenzie made his U-20 World Cup debut as a second half sub and helped the United States U-20s rebound with a 2-0 win over Nigeria on Monday.
McKenzie replaced the injured Chris Richards at the hour mark and was whistled for a penalty less than four minutes later. Fortunately for McKenzie and the Americans, the penalty was waved after VAR determined that the fouled player was offsides on the play.
It was the first competitive game action for McKenzie since his one appearance for the Union off the bench for the final 12 minutes on April 13. McKenzie was in line to start the following weekend but had an emergency appendectomy that kept him on the sidelines leading up to the World Cup. He’s made one appearance this season for Bethlehem Steel FC, going 90 minutes in a game against Memphis 901 FC on March 24.
Sebastian Soto scored both goals in the win over Nigeria with an 18th minute strike and a a goal just after halftime. Alex Mendez assisted on the first and Chris Gloster set up the second.
Philadelphia Union defender Matt Real and former Philadelphia Union Academy goalkeeper CJ dos Santos were unused substitutes.
The win puts the U.S. in a good position heading into the final Group D match against Qatar on Thursday. The Yanks are tied on points with Nigeria and only one back on goal differential. Ukraine tops the group with six points and Qatar enters the final group match without a goal or a point.