The United States under-20 men's national team entered its match Friday night in Costa Rica needing a win or draw against El Salvador to advance to this summer's U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
Good thing that the United States had Eryk Williamson. The Maryland men's soccer sophomore midfielder, a second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection last fall, assisted on the Americans' first goal of the night, an 18th-minute conversion from Emmanuel Sabbi.
Seven minutes later, he found himself approaching the penalty box, a ball bouncing temptingly in front of him. Any notion of "What's the worst that could happen?" quickly became "That was the best thing that could have happened." Behold:
The United States held on for a 2-1 win, and El Salvador did not take kindly to the result. As the Americans tried to salt the game away, the cards started to fly. At one point in a scrum around the referee, Williamson, a late arrival to the feuding and far from an agitator, took a forearm shiver to the head and then a right jab to the jaw. See for yourself, starting about the 20-second mark:
Williamson and the United States will face Honduras in the CONCACAF championship Sunday.