The top two finishers of the three-team group that includes El Salvador earn World Cup bids. Mexico faces El Salvador on Wednesday. A U.S. tie or win against El Salvador on Friday will clinch a World Cup berth for the USA, which would also qualify with a with a loss on Friday if El Salvador beats or ties Mexico.
Results: Concacaf U-20 World Cup Qualifying
Mexico, which won the last three Concacaf U-20 Championship titles, in 2011, 2013 and 2015, hadn’t lost a game in the competition since 2009. It had only lost to the USA once before at the Concacaf U-20 level, in 1986 when Tony Meola was in goal.
Palmer-Brown put the USA ahead in the 29th minute with a 6-yard header from Brooks Lennon’s corner kick. Palmer-Brown’s strike, the first goal Mexico conceded at this tournament, marked the only penalty-area action of the first half, during which Mexico mustered a pair of futile long-range shots. For most of the first 45 minutes, the Americans succeeded in pinning the Mexicans in their own half.
"It felt great but I think what felt the best was the fact our team gave everything it had and didn’t really give options to Mexico to win the game," said U.S. coach Tab Ramos. "We know Mexico is always a high-scoring team. We know they always create a lot of chances. And we gave them very little if anything at all today. The team made an incredible effort and we got the result."
Shortly after the second-half kickoff, central defender Tommy Redding slid to clear a threatening low ball near goal area to deny Ronaldo Cisneros a shot — but it wasn’t a sign of a more lethal Mexican attack. Cisneros, who entered the game with a tournament-leading five goals, saw little of the ball and it wasn’t until the final minutes that the Mexicans, who finished the game without a shot on frame, had any sustained possession in the U.S. half. But even late in the game, it was the USA that came closest to scoring as Mexican keeper Jose Hernandez denied Coy Craft and Jonathan Lewis on breakaways.
"I think what was important for us is that tactically we wanted to push them from the start of the play," Ramos said. "We didn’t want them to feel comfortable at all in the game and I think the boys did a great job. It requires a big effort in order to not allow a team to play. And we did that today."
Feb. 27 in Tibas
USA 1 Mexico 0. Goal: Palmer-Brown (Lennon) 29.
USA -- Klinsmann, Fossey, Redding, Glad, Acosta, Palmer-Brown, Adams, de la Torre (Gutjahr, 90), Williamson (Lewis, 80), Lennon, Ebobisse (Craft, 57).
Mexico -- J.Hernandez, Cortes, Alvarez, Aguayo, Torres, Antena, Cervantes, Cordova (Lara 55), Aguirre (Zamudio, 78), Magana (Lopez, 46), Cisneros.
Referee: Melvin Matamoros (Honduras).
Shots on target: 4/0
Corner Kicks: 5/6
Yellow cards: Alvarez (Mexico) 61, Palmer-Brown (USA) 90.