USA picked up their first win in four FIFA U-20 World Cup matches to secure the perfect start to New Zealand 2015 with a 2-1 win over Myanmar.
It looked like there could be an upset on the cards after Yan Naing Oo scored the tournament's opening goal, but strikes from Maki Tall and captain Emerson Hyndman meant the Stars and Stripes would top Group A after the first round of games.
USA were slow out of the blocks and the Asian underdogs were quick to take advantage, roared on by a supportive crowd at the Northland Events Centre. Htike Htike Aug tested Zack Steffen inside six minutes with a long-range effort.
The Freiburg goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net soon after though. A whipped corner caused chaos at the near post and, after some shin-pinball in the six-yard box, Yan Naing Oo stabbed home – celebrated by the tournament debutants with a sideline line dance.
The jovial mood soon subsided as USA regained their footing. A steady increase in pressure saw Kellyn Perry-Acosta's cross scrambled behind for a corner, but captain Emerson Hyndman's dead-ball was clinical. Cameron Carter-Vickers' flick-on made its way to the back post, where Maki Tall was on hand to volley into the roof of the net.
Rubio Rubin squandered a fine chance to double the Star and Stripes' lead, miscuing from eight yards out, before he caused Myo Min Latt in the Myanmar goal a lot more trouble with an impressive overhead kick.
After ending on a high, USA returned from the break full of vigour, with Rubin heading over before then feeding Acosta, only to see the latter's sliding effort trickle inches wide of an open goal. The pressure told after ten minutes, however. A slick Myanmar attack was hit by an even slicker counter, led by Rubin, before the ball was laid on for Hyndman to slot home.
What followed was a composed performance from Tab Ramos' side, controlling the play in a fashion that had largely deserted them in the first half. With the clock ticking down Myanmar pushed for an equaliser, with captain Nanda Kyaw's long-range effort lifting the crowd.
While Gerd Ziese's side had the USA worried, with Mg Mg Lwin setting a few pulses racing, it was not enough to earn them a point. USA will look to secure passage to the Round of 16 against hosts New Zealand, while Myanmar will hope to bounce back against Ukraine.