Captain America saves the day
The United States of America defeated Iran 1-0 to advance to the FIFA World Cup (WC) last 16. The Stars and Stripes will now play the Netherlands for a spot in the quarterfinals, a feat they haven't accomplished since 2002.USA has advanced from the group stages in each of their last three visits at the finals.
At the Al Thumama Stadium, the stakes were at an all-time high because the victor would be assured a spot in the round of 16. Iran got off to a good start, but Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi were unable to fully expose the defense as they had against Wales.
Gregg Berhalter's team took control of the match after gaining a foothold. Timothy Weah and Christian Pulisic both hit tame headers that were easily saved, and following Josh Sargent's pull-back, Weah blasted over. Eventually, the Americans gained a deserving lead before the half when a rapid play change exposed the Iranian defense. The opening goal was scored by Pulisic after Weston McKennie's pick-up of Sergñio Dest in open space on the right side of the field.
Interestingly, the Stars and Stripes have only managed to score three goals in their last six games. However, they had the ball in the net once again shortly before halftime, only for Weah's spectacular finish to be ruled out for the slightest of offsides. Despite being ahead at the break, USA's problems were starting to pile, and Pulisic was taken out after getting clattered while scoring the goal. Around the hour mark, McKennie was also replaced, just a few seconds after Saman Ghoddos missed a huge opportunity to score the equalizer by shooting wide from close range.
Iran threw everything they had at the USA , but they encountered a resolute defense that prevented them from scoring a crucial equalizer. Iran now leaves the World Cup at the group stage for the sixth time, still waiting to make their debut in the knockout rounds. The Netherlands will present a tough challenge for the USA in the knockout rounds, but Berhalter's team will be confident because they have yet to give up a goal from open play in the competition.