Needing a victory over Iran to advance out of the group stage, the United State Men's National Team secured a goal in the 38th minute and hung on by the skin of their teeth, surviving several late challenges from Iran to get a 1-0 victory Tuesday.
The Americans dominated the Iranians for much of the first half, their youth more than outweighing their inexperience. They were able to get to balls and close down spaces quickly, and Sergino Dest and Tim Weah repeatedly tested Iran’s defense, which could do little but bunker down and block the last U.S. pass.
But after failing to finish in their first two games, Pulisic and the Americans weren’t going to be denied again.
In the 38th, Weston McKennie chipped a long ball to Dest, who headed it across the goal where a streaking Pulisic found it. He knocked it in from close range with his right foot, setting off pandemonium among U.S. fans and the USMNT bench.
He suffered a painful injury on the play, and had to be withdrawn at halftime. But the U.S. no longer needed a goal; it just needed to hang on, and it did. Tim Ream and Cameron Carter-Vickers, starting together for the very first time as a center back pairing, were immense. Yunus Musah was active and explosive. Tyler Adams, as always, was everywhere.
It sets up a Saturday date with the Dutch, who appear the favored, but who are beatable. Another win there, at 10 a.m. ET at the Khalifa Stadium, would take the Americans to a quarterfinal that could feature Argentina, but also could yield a far weaker foe like Poland, Denmark or Australia.