U.S. Soccer Advances In World Cup To Round Of 16 Via Drama-Filled Win Over Iran
By: Hunter Lobur-Cummins
The U.S. men’s Soccer team clinched a berth to the round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this past Tuesday as the team narrowly defeated Iran, 1-0. The win gave the U.S. five total points in group play after the last two matches ended in ties, good for second in group B behind England with seven.
It did not come easy though. Iran had previously beaten the U.S. in the 1998 tournament, 2-1 in France. In the rematch 24 years later, it was an electrifying 38th minute goal from captain Christian Pulisic that proved to be the difference for the Americans. It should be noted that the tally came at a price, as Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion by way of crashing into the Iranian netminder during the play. He said that he will be all set to play in the team’s next game, American supporters will hope that statement is true come Saturday.
Iran were able to make it a challenging endeavor for the U.S. to hold onto the lead, as Matt Turner was required to make multiple saves and be on watch for close calls in net for the U.S. right up until the final whistle. Most importantly, he was able to just barely deflect an Iranian shot that was set up by a beautiful headed ball. He needed some assistance from the defense unit though, as the ball was cleared out of danger after it squirmed loose out of Turner’s reach. Iran also wanted penalties to be called on two separate occasions late in the match, but the officials felt that there was not enough evidence of reprimandable play from the U.S. in the instances to grant any for Iran.
While the U.S. was surely relieved after the final whistle, the campaign does not get any easier, as the next match pits them against a strong Netherlands side that won two of its three group play matches. The U.S. will have to deal with the likes of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong, and upstart forward Cody Gakpo.
This tilt between fellow red white and blue flag nations will open the World Cup round of 16 at 10 A.M. ET on Saturday December 3rd. The Americans will be looking to match the 2002 team which reached the next round of the quarterfinals, but it will take an especially high-quality effort vs the Dutch to do so.