Hyndman stars as U.S. U-20 team downs Myanmar 2-1 to open World Cup play

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Emerson Hyndman set up the first goal and bagged the second as the United States U-20 team came back to beat Myanmar 2-1 overnight to earn three points from their World Cup group stage opener in New Zealand.

On his return from a broken collarbone suffered in late January qualifying, the Fulham midfielder captained the side at Northland Events Center in Whangarei, and was the brightest player in a somewhat shaky side.

Myanmar controlled the opening 15 minutes and scored early as the US looked shaky and disjointed, a Tab Ramos side that was quite different looking from the one that qualified via a playoff against El Salvador. They struggled mightily to string together more than a few passes and were unable to hold solid possession, appearing somewhat unfamiliar with one another.

But a set-piece goal from DC-born Lille youth product Maki Tall in the 17th minute evened things up and, while it didn’t jump-start the US immediately, it put them on the right path. 19-year-old Kellyn Acosta had a wide-open goal in the 53rd minute on a ball from Rubio Rubin and somehow missed the sliding chance, but Hyndman eventually scored the winner minutes later on a brilliant run from midfield to give the US an early lead atop Group A. Here’s a look at the game-winner:

The win is a great start for Ramos and the team, but they’ll need to be much better to avoid a different fate against New Zealand and Ukraine, who played to a 0-0 draw in Auckland.