The survive and advance mantra was in full effect for the United States U20 team on Thursday as they moved onto the knockout stage of the U20 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Qatar.
Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie made his first start of the competition as the captain in a three-man back line and didn’t have a great start, picking up a yellow card in the 14th minute. He ended up playing all 90 minutes and the Americans kept a clean sheet for the second straight game.
Matt Real made his second appearance of the tournament with a brief cameo in stoppage time, replacing Chris Gloster.
David Ochoa got the start over Philadelphia native CJ dos Santos in goal (Brady Scott started the first two matches) and came up with a key stop in the first half when he denied a Qatar player just before halftime.
The breakthrough came for the Americans when Alex Mendez created a turnover deep in Qatar territory and got the ball to Timothy Weah in the box. Weah beat a couple defenders with an excellent touch on the ball and buried his shot.
Mendez had a chance to double the lead a few minutes later when VAR confirmed a penalty against Ulysses Llanez, but his penalty kick was saved.
The U.S. finished second in their group behind Ukraine, which played Nigeria to a 1-1 draw on Thursday. They’ll face the winners of Group E — France or Mali — in Bydgoszcz in the Round of 16 on Tuesday.