USMNT defeats Iran, advances to round of 16

A courageous Christian Pulisic goal pushes the U.S. to the next round.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images, Christian Pulisic scoring pivotal goal.

The United States needed a big performance to attain the knockout round. This soccer match tested the program and its grit, as they had missed the tournament just four years ago.

The decisive moment came when star forward Christian Pulisic scored late in the first half and went on to defeat Iran 1-0.

By finishing in second place in Group B, the United States will be slated to face the Netherlands in a round of 16 on Saturday. The Netherlands finished first in group A with a 2-0-1 record. Meanwhile, England defeated Wales 3-0, left group B with a 2-0-1 record, and will face Senegal in the next round.

This was the most significant match for the U.S. since they met the tournament over eight years ago. This match became tense when Pulisic scored in the 38th minute while simultaneously crashing into the Iranian goalkeeper. He laid down in obvious pain for a moment but was able to finish the half. Pulisic was replaced in the second half, and he was taken to the hospital for scans. He has been listed as day-to-day.

“I sent a text and checked on him, and he said, ‘best believe I’ll be ready on Saturday,'” said teammate Weston McKennie.

A perfect ball set up the goal from McKennie to Sergino Dest. Dest was able to head the ball across the goal area, where the striking Pulisic knocked the ball into the net before crashing into the goalkeeper.

Pulisic was treated on the sideline for a few minutes and returned to the game; however, it was clear that he was in a reasonable amount of pain when running.

The second half was tense as the U.S. had no room for error. American players were defending with desperation and were fatigued. When the final whistle was blown, players collapsed in relief and celebration.

For the first time in the program’s history, the U.S. has completed a shutout in two World Cup matches. The only goal allowed was in the first match against Wales.

“You’re going to have to suffer a lot during these games because that’s part of the game,” Tyler Adams said. “Once you get a one-goal lead, one goal can be very decisive. So how you manage that, how you cope with the pressure, it’s stressful, but one thing we can count on in these moments is our defense, and it has been superb.”

Adams, the team’s captain, has described the group as fearless, relentless, brave, and diverse. Adams has also been embracing the underdog theme the U.S. has been given.

“We have that American mentality in that playoff setting. We might be underdogs, but anything can happen,” Adams elaborates.

The stage has been set for the U.S., as they will face The Netherlands in a do-or-die game on Saturday. It will boil down to the U.S.’s ability to execute and continue to ride with a chip on its shoulder.