Forward Sebastian Soto struck twice for the USA in rainy Bielsko-Bialo Monday night, powering the Stars and Stripes to their first victory at Poland 2019 while handing Nigeria their first defeat.
USA coach Tab Ramos made just one change to the starting XI from his side’s opener against Ukraine, and it paid doubly. First, Soto slipped his marker and nodded home Alex Mendez’s corner-kick service at the far post in the 18th minute, giving the USA a 1-0 lead.
Less than one minute into the second half Soto snuck past the Nigeria defence yet again, doubling his team’s advantage. Chris Gloster played him through beautifully after a marauding run inside from the left-back. Soto then got his feet and hips right, waited for the goalkeeper to collapse and popped the ball into the net with the inside of his right foot.
Nigeria weren’t without their chances, leaving the USA scrambling from a flurry of brilliant individual efforts toward the end of the first half. First, substitute Aniekeme Okon’s ferocious full volley at the top of the area was saved by Brady Scott. That was followed by forward Maxell Effiom’s stinger from outside the right corner of the box which clipped the crossbar a minute later.
In the end the USA were resolute, holding on to greatly lift their chances of advancing from Group D.
Next up (Thursday)
Qatar-USA (20:30 local time)
Ukraine-Nigeria (20:30 local time)