U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ADVANCES TO KNOCKOUT ROUND OF 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP WITH 1-0 SHUTOUT VICTORY OVER IR IRAN ON FIRST HALF GOAL FROM CHRISTIAN PULISIC
USA WILL FACE NETHERLANDS IN ROUND OF 16 ON SATURDAY, DEC. 3 AT 10 A.M. ET ON FOX/TELEMUNDO; PULISIC SCORES FIRST WORLD CUP GOAL; GOALKEEPER MATT TURNER RECORDS SECOND SHUTOUT OF TOURNAMENT
DOHA, Qatar (Nov. 29, 2022) – The U.S. Men’s National Team advanced to the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory against IR Iran on an historic night for U.S. Soccer. Needing a victory to advance, forward Christian Pulisic scored the game-winner in the 38th minute off an assist from defender Sergiño Dest.
With the result, the USA finishes second in Group B with five points and will face Group A winner Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. ET (FOX, Telemundo). England defeated Wales 3-0 in the other Group B match tonight to finish atop the group with seven points. The victory also ensured the USA’s advancement to the knockout round at five of the last seven World Cups in which the USMNT has participated.
It was fitting that Pulisic, the USMNT’s talisman for much of this four-year cycle, provided the difference maker in a crucial win-or-go-home match. Goalkeeper Matt Turner and the U.S. defense held strong against a spirited second half push by Iran to record a second clean sheet of the tournament, marking the first time that the USA has recorded multiple shutouts at the World Cup since 1930.
After putting plenty of pressure on the Iran defense for the majority of the first half, the USA’s breakthrough finally came in the 38th minute. Left back Antonee Robinson ran a ball down on the left wing deep in Iran territory. He played a bass back and centrally to Adams, who then played Weston McKennie and the U.S. midfielder spotted Dest making a run behind the defense into the right side of the penalty area. Dest ran under the perfectly chipped pass and sent a header bouncing through the middle to Pulisic who put his body on the line to smash home a half-volley from four yards out a second before enduring a heavy collision with the Iran goalkeeper, an incident that would cause Pulisic to be replaced at halftime due to an abdominal injury. The goal was the 22nd of his international career for Pulisic, who was replaced at halftime by Brenden Aaronson, and the young midfielder played a stellar second half.
Despite a strong effort from Team Melli and a raucous pro-Iran crowd, the USMNT was on the front foot for most of the match, continuing its excellent run of play from its first two games in Qatar. The atmosphere was electric from the opening whistle at Al Thumama Stadium and while Iran, which needed just a tie to advance, opened the game with a menacing spell in the U.S. penalty box, captain Tyler Adams and defender Tim Ream did well to shut down any danger. From there, the U.S. had the better of possession and spent plenty of time in Iranian territory, holding Iran without a shot in the first half and just four on the night compared to USA’s 12 total. The USA also put five shots on goal to Iran’s one.
Midfielder Yunus Musah played a vitally important role in the midfield throughout the night, combining well with defender Sergiño Dest and forward Tim Weah on the right wing. The midfielder (who turned 20 years old today) fired the first U.S. shot in the ninth minute and set up another attempt in the 11th, sending a cross in for Pulisic that went straight at Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. A cross from Dest in the 17th minute also forced a dive from Beiranvand to push the ball out of danger.
Defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, who partnered well with Reem in the center of the defense, shone in his World Cup debut, often winning long balls downfield from the Iranian front line. Ream stood tall as the last man back on several Iranian attacking forays as central defense did well to defuse any threats down the stretch.
The U.S. was patient in possession, holding a slight advantage over the course of the match as it built up from the back, working the ball methodically around the field throughout the evening as individual bits of skill helped open up the Iran defense. Pulisic made a move to make some space in the 28th and play a pass up to forward Josh Sargent. After his shot was deflected upwards, Weah put a header on goal that was swallowed by the ‘keeper. Another chance came from the right wing in the 33rd when a Dest cross led to a shot for Weah, but he skied it over the crossbar.
The U.S. nearly doubled their advantage late in second-half stoppage time as McKennie found Weah on the break and he slotted it home past the ‘keeper, but the goal was disallowed due to offside by the slimmest of margins.
Buoyed by the crowd urging them forward, Iran created a few dangerous looks in the second half. Team Melli’s first shot came in the 52nd minute as Saman Ghoddos muscled his way into the U.S. box but had his header go over the bar. Another opportunity came in the 65th minute when Ali Gholizadeh played a ball into the penalty box and after a swing and a miss from Mehdi Taremi, Ghoddos ripped a shot that skied over the net.
The U.S. defense weathered the storm from Iran during 10-plus minutes of stoppage time, winning numerous powerful headers to clear the ball out of danger, while Turner was also called into action at moments. In the 82nd minute after a booming free kick into the box, midfielder Ali Karimi pushed the ball forward and Turner leapt to make grab a high ball close to the goal line.
In the 93rd minute, an Iran free kick service was headed just off target and into the 98th minute, the ball snuck through Turner’s legs deep inside the penalty box as an Iranian forward crashed into him, but substitute Walker Zimmerman was the man on the spot, sweeping the ball out of danger to preserve the win.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
USA – Christian Pulisic (Sergiño Dest), 38th minute – Midfielder Weston McKennie received the ball just past midfield from Tyler Adams and found Dest on the run into the right side of the box with a perfectly chipped pass over the back line. Dest headed the ball on his first touch across the mouth of the goal to meet the crashing Pulisic, who finished from six yards out to open the scoring. USA 1, IRN 0