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The USA Men’s National Team survived a tense 1-0 victory over Iran in the final Group stage match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday at Al Thumana Stadium in Doha. The win in front of a hostile crowd clinched a second place finish in Group B to send the USMNT to the knockout rounds of the tournament.

The USMNT put on the pressure early spending most of the first half in the offensive end, holding the Iranians from taking a single shot in the half. In the 38th minute Weston McKennie sent a pass over the top to find Sergiño Dest in the front corner of the pitch. Dest sent a cross to an attacking Christian Pulisic in the center of the box who sent the ball into the back of the net right before his momentum sent him crashing into Iranian goaltender Alireza Beiranvand knocking both players to the ground for several minutes. Pulisic briefly came out of the game to receive treatment from the team doctor as the game restarted with the US a player short for a few minutes. Pulisic returned to the game a few minutes later still appearing woozy for the remainder of the half. In the 7th minute of stoppage time Timothy Weah appeared to have notched a second goal but it was immediately waved off by the officials for Weah being offside by a few inches, sending the game into halftime with the Americans up 1-0.

Pulisic’s abdominal injury was too much to play through as he was pulled for Brenden Aaronson at the start of the second half. Iran’s best chance came in the 65th minute when Saman Ghaddos had a shot from the left side of the box which curled just outside the right post, missing the equalizer by a few inches. In the 74th minute US striker Josh Sargent suffered a right leg injury which forced him to come out of the game for Haji Wright. Iran didn’t go down easily, maintaining pressure against a depleted US lineup until the very end.

News and Notes:
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is the longest serving manager in the nation’s history, but he also was a key figure for soccer in the USA. He was the second coach for the NY/NJ Metrostars of MLS (now the New York Red Bulls) in their inaugural season in 1996. He also wrote the infamous “Q-Report” for the US Soccer Federation in 1998 as part of Project 2010, a $50 Million plan by the USSF to revamp the US Soccer system with an emphasis on Youth development camps with the goal of leading the USA to a World Cup championship by 2010. While the ambitious World Cup championship goal was not reached, these development academies at both a national level and a club level in MLS and USF have revolutionized talent growth throughout the country and made the USA a presence on the world stage in the sport.
Pulisic was brought to the hospital as a precaution but was released before the end of the night. He and Josh Sargent are day to day with their respective injuries.
The USMNT’s next match is in the World Cup Round of 16 against Group A winner Netherlands on Saturday December 3 at 10am with the match broadcast nationally on Fox.

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