USA beat Iran – advance to World Cup Round of 16

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The US men’s national soccer team survived to fight another day at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, defeating Iran in a competitive match on Tuesday and setting up a much-anticipated round of 16 this weekend.

Important facts

The USA won Tuesday’s game 1-0 thanks to a Christian Pulisic goal.

The win earned USA five points from their three group stage games, enough to finish second in the group behind England.

The Americans’ next game is against the Netherlands on Saturday.

What to look out for

The World Cup format is now shifting to a bracket-style single-elimination tournament where every game must be won to advance.

key background

After a 1-1 draw with Wales and a 0-0 draw with England at the start of the group stage, in which the US team put in solid performances but failed to claim a win, the US were able to progress on Tuesday. Political controversy also surrounded Tuesday’s game after US Soccer sparked international outrage by posting images of the Iranian flag on its social media accounts scrubbing the Islamic Republic’s emblem. US soccer officials initially defended the decision, saying it was a show of support for Iranian protesters who held massive demonstrations in September against the death in police custody of a woman who was allegedly arrested for improperly wearing a headscarf. US head coach Gregg Berhalter apologized for the move in a news conference on Monday, saying the American coaches and players “didn’t know anything about what was posted.” Iran filed a formal complaint with FIFA, the world governing body of football, ahead of the game, demanding that the United States be banned from the World Cup.

Surprising fact

Qualifying for the World Cup alone was a bigger achievement for the US men’s team than their 2018 World Cup effort when, after a 2-1 loss in Trinidad and Tobago, they shockingly fell out of the tournament, resulting in a fifth-place qualifying region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Only the top four teams were eligible to make the World Championship.

Further reading

USA tie Wales in first World Cup game (Forbes)

US soccer coach apologizes for social media protest that led to Iran demanding World Cup ban (Forbes)

Iranian official says US is using hijab protests to ‘weaken’ Iran as demonstrations spread globally (Forbes)

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