The U.S. under-20 men’s soccer team secured a nervous but sufficient 1-0 win over Qatar in their group stage finale at the World Cup, clinching second place in Group D and advancing to the round of 16.
Union defender Mark McKenzie played all 90 minutes, albeit in the unusual position of right back. He picked up a yellow card just 14 minutes in, then survived the rest of the game unscathed.
Matt Real played the last few minutes of stoppage time as a late substitute.
Tim Weah, brought in from the senior U.S. team for his experience and star power, scored the goal in the 75th minute.
The U.S. did not look good in the first half. They gave up a slew of shots to Qatar, including two on a breakaway in the 37th minute.
After a long wait for a goal, Weah finally broke the drought when he pounced on a loose ball amid some lax Qatari defending and smashed it in.
The U.S. had a chance to double its lead in the 86th minute after Brandon Servania was taken down in the 18-yard box. Initially, the referee did not give a penalty because the offside flag was up. But the play went to a video review which showed Servania had been onside, and the referee pointed to the spot. Six minutes after the initial whistle, Alex Mendez stepped up to shoot and was stopped by Qatar goalkeeper Shehab Ellethy.
Weah had another chance to score in the 89th, but Ellethy ran off his line and made a sliding block. Ledezma hit the crossbar in the second of seven minutes of stoppage time.
U.S. goalkeeper David Ochoa made six saves in the game, including a catch of a cross in the 96th.
Three other American players were booked: midfielders Brandon Servania, Chris Durkin and Alex Mendez. Durkin and Mendez will miss the round of 16 game after picking up multiple yellow cards in the group stage.
The U.S. will play the winner of Group E, which will be either France or Mali, in the round of 16 next Tuesday. France and Mali meet on Friday at noon. Fox Sports 2 will televise the game, and Fox and Telemundo’s websites will stream it online.