DOHA, Qatar — With a loss or draw sufficient to ship them house, the US males’s nationwide crew secured a significant 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday to complete second in Group B and advance to the knockout rounds of the 2022 World Cup.
Christian Pulisic scored the sport’s solely purpose within the thirty eighth minute, ending from shut vary. Pulisic suffered what appeared to be a decrease stomach harm on the play, and needed to be substituted at halftime, and the US not often seemed as fluid in assault once more.
The US was made to endure within the sport’s latter levels, however finally did sufficient to safe a win that sees the People attain the knockout stage for the fourth time previously 5 World Cups through which the USA has certified.
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1. Pulisic the hero, however pays a worth as People advance to knockouts
Pulisic hasn’t all the time seemed snug being the face of this US crew, and regardless of establishing Tim Weah’s purpose within the opener towards Wales, his play had blown cold and warm on this World Cup. His execution throughout transition alternatives hasn’t been adequate, and his set items typically didn’t clear the primary man.
The Tuesday match appeared to be extra of the identical within the early going, because the US struggled to interrupt down Iran’s defensive wall. However nobody might query Pulisic’s dedication or bravery in placing the US on high within the thirty eighth minute. Weston McKennie pinged a ball to Sergiño Dest on the suitable wing, and Dest threaded it throughout purpose to the onrushing Pulisic to transform from shut vary.
Pulisic paid a worth for the tally, colliding with Iran keeper Alireza Beiranvand, and struggling an harm that left him wincing in ache. He gamely carried on for the remainder of the half however ultimately needed to be substituted, with Brenden Aaronson approaching.
The US can be praying Pulisic recovers, because the People misplaced one thing with him not on the sphere — although a part of that was resulting from Iran taking a extra aggressive posture in assault.
The substitutions made by US supervisor Gregg Berhalter appeared designed to see the match out fairly than management the tempo. The insertion of Walker Zimmerman, who was surprisingly moved to the bench after beginning the USA’s first two video games, noticed the People go along with 5 within the again.
The US definitely did not shut out the sport in textbook trend, as there have been loads of anxious moments on the finish. Zimmerman’s late clearance in stoppage time defused a scary state of affairs when a ball obtained behind goalkeeper Matt Turner. However the US obtained the job completed.
The match was seen as one thing of a referendum for this US squad — and Berhalter. A bunch stage exit would have been seen as a failure given the expertise on this US facet, and questions nonetheless stay concerning the effectiveness of the US assault, which scored simply two objectives in the course of the group stage.
However due to continued stellar play by the US protection, it is a second to rejoice, and the People can now method the knockout rounds with an angle that they don’t have anything to lose and every thing to achieve.
2. The USA protection, and particularly Dest, excels
Berhalter made a pair of modifications along with his beginning XI, placing heart again Cameron Carter-Vickers alongside Tim Ream whereas up high Josh Sargent was most well-liked at heart ahead rather than Haji Wright.
The insertion of Carter-Vickers was a raffle on condition that not solely was it his first sport within the match, nevertheless it was additionally the primary time he and Ream had ever performed collectively. But the duo seemed like they’d been enjoying collectively for years, with one offering cowl for the opposite on the uncommon event that certainly one of their teammates obtained overwhelmed.
Ream was as soon as once more distinctive whereas Carter-Vickers was regular. When the US look again on this group stage marketing campaign, they’ll keep in mind how the protection was breached solely as soon as with objectives conceded from the run of play.
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However maybe the best defender on the evening was Dest for what he did on the attacking finish.
After a tepid opening by the US after they appeared to have few concepts on the right way to break by the Iran protection, it was Dest’s potential to get ahead that gave the crew a spark along with his arduous, low cross within the seventeenth minute inflicting some chaos within the Iran field. A mazy run within the thirtieth minute was blocked however appeared to provide the US extra confidence in assault.
All informed, it was a difference-making efficiency from Dest.
3. Iran cannot repeat heroics of 1998
Matchups between the USA and Iran are all the time politically charged. A type of was within the 1998 World Cup, when Iran recorded a well-known victory towards the US that eradicated the People from that match.
The political angle was ratcheted up forward of this match after social media posts by the US Soccer Federation displayed the Iran flag with the logo of the Islamic Republic eliminated. Whereas the posts have been supposed to help protesters in Iran pushing for extra equal therapy of girls following the dying of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a furor erupted. The offending posts have been ultimately eliminated and changed with the precise flag displayed, however the pregame temperature had already reached the boiling level.
The Iranian gamers have been going through large strain as nicely given their present of help for the protesters earlier within the match by not singing the nationwide anthem. The introduced crowd of 42,127 was firmly behind Crew Melli as nicely, elevating expectations.
But Iran’s supervisor, Carlos Queiroz, can be questioned about the best way his crew began the match, delivering an oddly passive show within the first half.
Needing solely a draw to advance, Crew Melli’s plan of sitting again and putting on the counter made sense nevertheless it appeared to rob Iran of the aggression it confirmed within the 2-0 win over Wales. Sardar Azmoun was typically stranded up high, and Iran’s transition sport struggled to string collectively the form of passes that may threaten the US protection.
It wasn’t till the 52nd minute that Iran a lot as registered a shot, with substitute Saman Ghoddos’ close-range header going over the bar. Ghoddos threatened once more within the sixty fifth minute however his curling effort simply missed the goal.
Determined to seek out an equalizer that may ship them by, Iran pushed ahead extra, coming shut on a stoppage-time header from Morteza Pouraliganji that went simply vast. That was adopted by Zimmerman’s very important clearance. In the end, Crew Melli could not discover a well beyond the US and now discover themselves eradicated from the match. Whether or not the gamers will face repercussions at house can be a narrative value following.
USA: Matt Turner 6, Antonee Robinson 5, Tim Ream 7, Cameron Carter-Vickers 6, Sergino Dest 7, Yunus Musah 6, Tyler Adams 6, Weston McKennie 7, Christian Pulisic 6, Josh Sargent 6, Tim Weah 5.
Subs: Brenden Aaronson 5, Kellyn Acosta 5, Haji Wright 3, Walker Zimmerman 6, Shaq Moore 5
Iran: Alireza Beiranvand 6; Ramin Rezaeian 4, Morteza Pouraliganji 6, Majid Hosseini 6, Milad Mohammadi 4; Ali Gholizadeh 6, Ahmad Noorollahi 5, Saeid Ezatolahi 5, Ehsan Hajsafi 6; Sardar Azmoun 4, Mehdi Taremi 5.
Subs: Ali Karimi 5, Saman Ghoddos 6, Mehdi Torabi 5, Abolfazl Jalali 5, Karim Ansarifard 5
Finest and worst performers
BEST: Sergino Dest, USA
It was Dest’s attacking play on the suitable flank that supplied the perfect attacking moments for the US, and his help arrange Pulisic for the very important purpose.
WORST: Sardar Azmoun, Iran
Azmoun, so dynamic within the win over Wales, was approach off his sport. He supplied nothing in the best way of an attacking menace and was subbed at halftime.
Highlights and notable moments
All of the hazard all through the primary half was in Iran’s finish because the People went towards purpose repeatedly. (The half ended with Iran producing 0.00 xG, or anticipated objectives, a complicated stat measuring the probability of a crew scoring.)
The breakthrough lastly got here within the thirty eighth minute as winger Christian Pulisic ran onto a cross from right-back Sergino Dest.
NOTHING WAS STOPPING PULISIC FROM SCORING 😤
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 29, 2022
The celebrations rapidly turned to concern, nonetheless, as Pulisic stayed down on the play, wincing in ache and clutching his decrease stomach space.
After medical analysis on the sideline whereas the sport continued, Pulisic returned to the sphere however he was ultimately subbed off at halftime for Brenden Aaronson.
Pulisic is helped off the sideline after scoring for the USMNT pic.twitter.com/6C2z6sKNAZ
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 29, 2022
After the match: What the gamers and managers stated
US males’s nationwide crew coach Gregg Berhalter: “In the first half, we showed what we could do soccer-wise with a really a good first half. The second half, we showed what we could do determination-wise. The guys grinded and have every single ounce of energy, and we’re undefeated going into the next round.”
Berhalter on Pulisic: “No update on his status, but I’ve been saying all along it’s a wonderful thing when one of your best players is one of your hardest-working, and he’s certainly that. I can’t say enough positive things about Christian.”
USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie: “We wanted to control our own destiny, we knew we could handle it. And I mean, you guys can see — I don’t want to say a bad word, but we’re a really close group of guys. We’re brothers. We’re [laughs]… We love this type of stuff, we love the pressure, we love the excitement. Because we’re a young team, we have our own swagger, we have our own style, we have our own way that we play, the way that we connect with each other and you see we did it today.”
McKennie on Pulisic’s purpose: “Obviously we’re very thankful that he threw his body there, but the thing is we have 20, 25 guys outside of Christian that would do the same thing, I believe. We know what our goal is, we know what we want to do, what we want to accomplish, and everybody’s ready to give everything. It’s unfortunate he had to come out from it, but if you see the stature Christian has and he’s throwing his body on the line, that should tell you enough of what this team means and how close this team is.”
Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Info)
Since making his debut for the US vs. Guatemala on March 29, 2016, Christian Pulisic has contributed to 33 objectives (22 objectives and 11 assists) — essentially the most of every other participant in that span.
The USA accomplished 11 passes within the sequence that led to Pulisic’s purpose, the crew’s longest sequence of passes resulting in a purpose in a World Cup sport performed since ESPN’s information set begins in 1966.
The USA’s beginning lineup had a median age of 24 years and 321 days, making it the youngest of any to take the sphere but on the 2022 World Cup. It is the fourth-youngest beginning lineup for the USMNT at a World Cup.
This sport was defender Cameron Carter-Vickers’ twelfth cap, and the primary time he and Tim Ream have ever began a match collectively or performed in a single on the identical time with one another.
The USA beginning lineup featured no gamers from MLS for less than the second time for the reason that league was shaped in 1996. (The opposite time was the lineup to face Jamaica on the 2011 Gold Cup.)
Within the first half, the USA gave up zero photographs in a World Cup half for the primary time since 1966.
The USA obtained consecutive shutouts on the FIFA World Cup for the primary time since their first two matches within the competitors in 1930.
USA: With the win, the US end second in Group B behind England and advance to the spherical of 16, the place the People will face the Netherlands on Saturday.
Iran: With the loss, Iran are out of the World Cup.