The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) earned a spot in the knockout round of the FIFA 2022 World Cup with a 1-0 victory against Iran played in a dramatic fashion. The win is the first for the USMNT in the last five matches and sends the players to face the Netherlands for a sudden-death game. Iran was eliminated with the loss after England beat Wales earlier in the day.
WHAT TO KNOW
Christian Pulisic scored the lone goal in the 38th minute on a header from Sergiño Dest. Pulisic touched the ball just over the outstretched Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, throwing caution to the wind in doing so. The touch was enough to find the back of the net, but Pulisic went down in obvious pain. After being treated on the sideline, Pulisic briefly re-entered the game but was substituted at halftime.
Post-game reports indicate that Pulisic suffered an abdominal injury and is being treated at a local area hospital. His availability for the match against the Netherlands is in question until a further update is issued.
The USMNT dominated in the first half with a pressing, speed-based attack that sought the vast fields of grass Iran left undefended on the outsides of the pitch. They outshot Iran 9-0 in the first half and allowed only four shots by the game’s end. Iran became the fourth team during the 2022 World Cup to fail to register a shot in the first half.
BY THE NUMBERS
Iran nearly had an opportunity late in the match to get a set piece on a clear in the U.S. box that was reviewed by referees. Cameron Carter-Vickers was seen with his hand on the shoulder of Mehdi Terami, who went to the ground as goalkeeper Matt Turner cleared. The referees determined that not enough contact happened to justify a penalty.
The match went for a full 100 minutes with added stoppage time due to numerous injuries on both teams. The win is the first time that the U.S. has advanced beyond the group stage since 2014, the last time the team qualified for the World Cup competition. Iran has never advanced beyond the group stage in six World Cup appearances.
The USMNT dominated in shots (14-4), shots on target (5-1), time of possession (51%-49%), passes (474-465), and pass accuracy (83%-77%). Iran drew three yellow card fouls including one from the sideline and was flagged for fouls 14 times in the game.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter said: “No update on [Pulisic’s] status. I’ve been saying all along, it’s a wonderful thing when one of your best players is also one of the hardest working, and he’s certainly that. I can’t say enough positive things about Christian.”
Tim Weah told Jenny Taft in post-game interviews: “I always say it’s us against the world. Cause no one believed that the U.S. could play good football. We’re just here trying to show the world.”
The USMNT will face the Netherlands, winners of Group A, on December 3 at 9 a.m. CST from Qatar. The game is a sudden-death scenario in which the victor will advance to the Semifinals.