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It was easy for the US on Tuesday against Iran at the 2022 World Cup. Win or go home. Mission accomplished for the Americans

Three of the four teams in Group B – USA, England and Iran – were still alive to claim two places in the round of 16. The scenarios are simple. England beat Wales 3-0 to lift the Three Lions into Group B. A narrow 1-0 win against Iran also sees the USA through to the knockout rounds.

The Americans now face the Netherlands at 10am ET on Saturday.

Here are the biggest moments and top games from the last day in Group B.

Full-time: Iran 0, USA 1

The full-time whistle blew at Al Thumama Stadium and the USA clinched a nervous, narrow 1-0 win over Iran. The Iranian bench was keen to award a penalty on Carter-Vickers but the referees again dismissed their claims and that was so close as the USMNT conceded a goal in the final moments of that game.

Second half

nine minutes overtime. How much did this game change in the second half? Remember the early exchange of that competition when the US doubled ownership of Iran? That number has been reduced to 53% to 47% in favor of Americans.

85 minutes: Iran claimed a handball against Moore, his first action in the game. The ball hit the hand of the Nashville SC defender, but his hand was pressed tightly against his body and the referees did not award a penalty.

After these substitutions, the USA now operates a five-man formation with three central defenders in Ream, Zimmerman and Carter-Vickers, with Robinson and Moore acting as full-backs. The Americans are really preparing to contain Iran in these last few minutes.

84 minutes: More substitutions from the Americans, their last two, as Berhalter looks to bolster his defence, with centre-back Zimmerman and right-back Shaq Moore replacing Weah and Dest respectively.

77 minutes: Some are worried about the USMNT here as Sargent suffers a very nasty fall which left the Norwich City striker’s right knee hard but it’s his right ankle that physios are treating at the moment. Unable to continue, Berhalter catches up with Haji Wright, who started against England, to replace Sargent.

67 minutes: Weston McKennie’s evening is now over with Kellyn Acosta coming on to take the place of Juventus midfielder in the US engine room. McKennie’s fitness has been a topic of conversation throughout this World Cup, having recovered from a quadriceps injury just in time to start the opener against Wales, although he has yet to play a full 90 minutes in Qatar.

58 minutes: Pulisic was unable to continue after that clash with the Iranian goalkeeper and was substituted off at half-time with what Berhalter called a “stomach injury”. Leeds United playmaker Brenden Aaronson has taken his place.

The first few minutes of that second half were a stark contrast to what transpired in the first 45 minutes. Very open, very consistent, with chances for both sides and Iran registering their first shot.

Halftime: Iran 0, USA 1

At half-time, the USA led 1-0 thanks to a goal from Pulisic. The Chelsea attacker returned to the pitch after being treated for a few minutes but his movements look on the strained side.

And it looks like the USA are on course to reach the last 16 and meet Group A winners the Netherlands. Of course, that depends on whether the Americans maintain this lead. If Iran finds a balance, we’ll be right back where we started while the US looks in from the outside.

In the first half, the USA had more possession and the better chances. Not only were they the better team in attack, but they didn’t concede a single shot. Your leadership is deserved.

And the last minutes of the first half perhaps offered a preview of the next 45 minutes. With Iran needing that equalizer to get out of this group, they had to be more adventurous to put players up front, giving Tim Weah two particularly good counterattacking opportunities only didn’t go away – in fact, the second ended up in the back of the net, only for the Lille striker to be narrowly flagged for offside.

First half

The US strikes first

There is a goal for the USA! And in keeping with the theme of the first 40 minutes of that first half, it comes from Dest heading a ball over the 6-yard box for Christian Pulisic to tap home.

However, it comes at a price. Pulisic was down for several minutes and treated after colliding badly with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and was still struggling as half-time progressed.

28 minutes: Dest and Robinson have featured prominently in the American attack thus far and the opportunities are piling up. However, their willingness to move forward has given Iran an invitation to invade the space left behind by the defenders, and the Iranians have presented a threatening counterattack. However, it is the USA who have the first half hour firmly under control – but above all have nothing to show.

18 minutes: The US is starting to nudge and nudge Iran’s defenses, looking for weak points, and those weak points appear to be widespread. Full-backs Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest each swung dangerous crosses, Christian Pulisic had a header attempt worth 0.09 xG but no breakthrough yet – even as the Americans’ knock on the door grows stronger.

9 minutes: The opening minutes of this game was the usual feel process, but the intensity is so great that the game seems like it’s being played at 1.5x speed. The Americans have almost 2-1 possession, which is no surprise, but both sides were full of direct, purposeful runs.

This tension is reflected in the stands. The noise has been constant so far.

collapse before the game

Putting aside the off-field controversies that have been constantly building between these two teams throughout this tournament. The stakes of this game – win and you’re in – add plenty of drama, and for a US side that can’t even afford a tie, the mountain they have to climb may always look steeper than they leave the tunnel in Al Thumama Stadium.

Let’s start with the choice, because it’s unsurprising and mind-bending at the same time. The starting XI for the USA is largely unchanged from the first two games with one exception.

Josh Sargent returns to the starting XI despite a largely ineffective 81-minute split between games against Wales and England. Haji Wright had even less impact in his start against the Three Lions so a change at the helm wasn’t unexpected, but returning to Sargent – when coach Gregg Berhalter had consistently picked Jesus Ferreira throughout this cycle – is a curious choice.

The most jarring decision comes at the back, where Cameron Carter-Vickers enters the heart of the defense at the expense of Walker Zimmerman alongside Tim Ream. Zimmerman conceded the penalty converted by Gareth Bale to give Wales a draw in the opening game of the Americas Tournament, but other than that the two-time MLS Defender of the Year was a very solid in a line of defense that was arguably this one of the team’s bright spots in Qatar. Carter-Vickers and Ream have never played together and the Celtic centre-back has only made three appearances for the USMNT in 2022 (in the Nations League against El Salvador and Grenada and in a friendly against Morocco).

Oh, and the spectators at Al Thumama Stadium are decidedly pro-Iranian, at least considering the noise made as the teams took to the pitch to warm up.

For Americans, there is no room for error. Has Berhalter already made one with Zimmerman’s discard?


Presidential support

fans show up

Growing controversy

After a US Football Association social media account briefly displayed the Iranian flag without the Islamic Republic emblem, the Iranian government responded by accusing US football of removing the name of God from its national flag, the Football Association of Iran said , his country will file a complaint with FIFA. According to a report by The Associated Press, Iran also threatened legal action.

The USSF said in a statement Sunday morning that it had decided to refrain from displaying the official flag on social media accounts to “show support for the women of Iran who are fighting for basic human rights.”

The poles were eventually dismantled and the flag’s emblem restored. A US spokesman said the USSF continues to support protesters in Iran, and US defense attorney Walker Zimmerman stressed that the team is focused on Tuesday but remains committed to women’s rights.

“I think it’s such a focused group on the task at hand, but at the same time we empathize and we strongly believe in and support women’s rights,” Zimmerman said.

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