Once again, a single goal was all the U.S. had to show for long periods of domination, but Jack McInerney's first-half strike was enough to give the Americans a 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates on Sunday and move them into the second round at the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria, where they will play Italy on Wednesday.
Once again, Luis Gil started the play that led to the U.S. goal, making a darting run toward the penalty area and laying the ball off to Nick Palodichuk, whose left-footed shot from outside the area was was only parried by UAE goalie Ahmad Shambih. McInerney was on the doorstep to put away the rebound.
Alex Shinsky, McInerney, Gil and Stefan Jerome all had good chances in the first half. In the second half, Gil had a wide-open header he put wide but seconds later was robbed by Shambih on his shot to the top corner.
Except for his failure to hold on to Palodichuk's shot, which led to the goal, Shambih was excellent in goal for the UAE.
The UAE finished tied with Brazil and the Netherlands on goal difference of 3-4 but claimed the fourth third-place spot by virtue of its better disciplinary record. The other third-place teams to advance: Germany, Uruguay and New Zealand.
"We are really pleased with today's performance," said U.S. coach Wilmer Cabrera. "I want to congratulate UAE, who have a very good team and were very competitive. The play was very good from the kids tonight. They moved the ball around well and created good opportunities. We came to play good football, play a good match and move the ball forward. We were only able to score once, but that one was enough to give us the chance to get to the next round."