U.S. under-20s beat Mexico to close in on CONCACAF Championship final

The United States took a major step toward qualifying for this summer's Under-20 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Mexico at the CONCACAF Championship on Monday.

Sporting Kansas City's Erik Palmer-Brown opened the scoring in the 29th minute, heading home following a corner from Brooks Lennon. Mexico defender Diego Cortes got a foot to the ball on the line but could not keep it out.

Mexico rarely tested the U.S. defense and goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, whose father -- former U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann -- watched from the stands in Costa Rica.

The U.S. had two clear chances on counter-attacks to double the lead late on, but Mexico keeper Jose Hernandez did well to cut out the chances.

The match opened the classification stage at the CONCACAF event, with two groups of three teams each. The top two teams in each group qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May, while the group winners will play in the CONCACAF final.

El Salvador faces Mexico on Tuesday before playing the Americans on Friday. A draw in either match would be enough to ensure Tab Ramos' U.S. squad qualifies to play in South Korea this summer.

Monday's result was just the U.S.'s under-20s second victory in 10 tries against Mexico -- and first since 1986 -- at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, which the Americans have never won.

Mexico had been unbeaten in its last 20 games at the event, dating back to 2009.