The U.S. men’s national soccer team has survived to fight another day at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, defeating Iran in a must-win match Tuesday and setting up a highly anticipated round of 16 contest this weekend.
The U.S. won Tuesday’s match 1-0, thanks to a goal from Christian Pulisic.
The win gave the U.S. five points from its three group stage matches, enough to finish second in the group behind England.
The Americans’ next match is against the Netherlands on Saturday.
What To Watch For
The World Cup format now shifts to a single-elimination, bracket-style tournament, with every game being a must-win to advance.
The U.S. came into Tuesday in a position to advance, following a 1-1 draw against Wales and 0-0 draw against England earlier in the group stage, where the U.S. team put in solid performances, yet failed to secure a win. Political controversy also surrounded Tuesday’s match, after U.S. Soccer sparked international outrage by sharing images of the Iranian flag on their social media accounts that scrubbed the Islamic Republic emblem. U.S. Soccer officials initially defended the decision by stating it was a show of support for Iranian protesters who have held massive demonstrations over the September death of a woman in police custody, who was allegedly arrested for improperly wearing a headscarf. U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter apologized for the move in a Monday news conference, saying the American coaches and players “knew nothing about what was being posted.” Iran filed a formal complaint with FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, prior to the match calling for the U.S. to be expelled from the World Cup.
Simply qualifying for the World Cup was a greater accomplishment for the U.S. men’s team than their 2018 World Cup effort, when they shockingly failed to make the tournament following a 2-1 loss in Trinidad and Tobago, leading to a fifth-place finish in their qualifying region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Only the top four teams were eligible to make the World Cup.