Talking Points: United States Beat Iran 1-0 to Advance to Round of 16

United States Beat Iran

Doha, Qatar – In a win-or-go-home scenario for the Americans, a first-half goal from Christian Pulisic and a clean sheet from Matt Turner was enough for the United States to beat Iran 1-0 and advance to the Round of 16 for a matchup with the Netherlands.

United States Beat Iran 1-0 and Advance to Round of 16 of the World Cup

USMNT Dominate Opening Half

On a night where they needed to be on top of their game, the United States dominated both the possession and the chances on goal in the opening 45 minutes. While the 38th-minute goal from Pulisic will be marked down as the game-winner, it wasn’t just one chance on the night with further opportunities coming from Pulisic, Tim Weah, and Josh Sargent which all could have extended the US lead to 2-0 before the halftime whistle. 

Furthermore, the American defensive line did an excellent job keeping the Iranian offense at bay allowing zero shots on goal until well into the second half and keeping two exciting attackers in Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi quiet throughout the match.

Read More: Christian Pulisic Injury: Scan to Be Done in Hospital

American Midfield Played a Key Role

While the trio maybe struggled to find their footing in the first matchup with Wales and saw a decent improvement during the battle versus England, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah were all integral to the United States’ victory against Iran. Musah led the way completing 90% of his attempted passes and developing a few key opportunities for the United States while Adams continued his bulldog midfield role winning 100% of his tackles for 12 recoveries. Rounding out the trio was, of course, McKennie who despite not being a full 90 minutes fit has been a constant threat throughout the group stages with late runs into the attack or some solid passing in the final third.

No doubt the midfield is one of the United States’ strongest areas on the pitch between the starting trio and even bench pieces like Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, and Luca de la Torre. If this team has any shot at competing with the Netherlands, the engine that is the United States midfield needs to keep performing at a high level.

Iran Creates Chaotic Final Minutes

Despite such a solid first-half showing, as the United States tends to do, things fell apart late into the second half and Iran was unfortunate to not take advantage of the chaos. While the United States were left scrambling after a defensive change to five at the back to try and hold the win, the Iranians were finally able to build some possession and develop an attack. However, two solid opportunities late into added time including a potentially reviewed penalty weren’t enough to help the Iranians grab a last-minute goal and clinch their spot in the Round of 16. 

Additionally, forcing just one save from the American keeper throughout the duration of this match made it clear that Carlos Queiroz’s squad had trouble breaking into the American defensive third until it was too little too late on the night.

Read More: USMNT Iran Instant Reaction Podcast

Last Word: US Advance to Face the Netherlands 

Following their win over Iran, the United States will advance to the Round of 16 for a matchup this Saturday, December 3 at 9 a.m. ET and face the Netherlands who similarly to the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

While no doubt a daunting task for this young American squad, these Flying Dutchmen feel very beatable after struggling as a federation over the past four years and coming out of a somewhat weak Group A to advance to the next round.

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