The USA have booked a place in the last sixteen at the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 after finishing top of Group D with a 1-0 victory over Egypt. Jacob Peterson's headed effort from sub Freddy Adu's build-up proved enough for the Americans to hold off the challenge posed by group rivals Argentina and Germany.
US coach Sigi Schmid shuffled the deck ahead of the final first round fixture, making six changes to the side which played out a goalless draw with the Germans. Normally automatic choices including fit-again Jonathan Spector, Eddie Gaven, Chad Barrett and Adu were among the star names consigned to the bench. For the Egyptians, skipper Abdallah Shahat returned from suspension, and boss Mohamed Radwan introduced Walid Kandel in defence. Hossam Ossama and Islam Siam were the men to miss out.
The game began at a gentle pace on the first simmering hot day of the tournament as the sides initially cancelled each other out. The USA's Will John latched onto Benny Feilhaber's pass to deliver the first warning shot, but the eighth minute effort whistled past the upright.
The next opening fell to Brad Evans from John's quickly-taken free-kick midway through the half, but Egypt keeper Hamada Shaaban saved comfortably. The game at this stage was practically devoid of highlights as the Egyptians again failed to make an impact going forward.
On the half-hour the Americans came within a hair's breadth of the lead as Evans flashed a drive across the face of goal, but Peterson only half-connected and the ball slithered wide. The Africans' luck held in the very next move as John failed to convert after profiting from Shaaban's careless goal-kick, but the shot-stopper quickly redeemed himself with a reaction block to foil Sacha Kljestan.
The USA piled on the pressure and matters soon worsened for the Egyptians as they were reduced to ten men on 35 minutes, Ahmed Gamil collecting a second yellow card for kicking the ball away. Evans saw his header on the stroke of half-time well saved by Shaaban as the score remained stubbornly goalless.
The Americans, aware of Argentina's half-time lead over Germany, emerged for the second period knowing only a win would guarantee first place in the group. Danny Szetela might have opened the scoring seconds after the restart but Shaaban was again on hand to clear the danger. Egypt's first opportunity arrived courtesy of Szetela's error, but US keeper Quentin Westberg parried Abdallah Said's drive after the striker had been sent clear by Mahmoud Abdelrazek on 51 minutes.
Schmid sent on Adu to inject urgency into his side's efforts and the move immediately paid dividends. The precocious youngster had only been on the field a minute before delivering a pinpoint cross from the left for Peterson to head home the 56th minute opener.
The North Africans struggled for a riposte and although Said fired over the bar on 69 minutes, the Americans looked the more likely to score. Egypt's best player Shaaban again excelled to deny Adu as Schmid's men comfortably ran down the clock to secure a last sixteen meeting with Italy, Turkey or the side finishing third in Group F.
The US boss was a happy man afterwards: "I'm delighted we're through as group winners, and we've kept a third clean sheet in a row. Sometimes you have to win even when you don't play well. I rested a few players today as I didn't want to risk any yellow cards."
Commented Egypt coach Radwan: "That was an above average performance from us. We've been toothless up front throughout the tournament, and we've not created enough chances.