Christian Pulisic caught almost the entire second-minute match of the USA’s win or home game against Iran on Tuesday and took a dangerous-looking forward that did nothing. But after 37 minutes, seven shots and five chances resulted in 0.42 expected goals but didn’t happen. real (While allowing Iran nothing, nothing and 0.00), Pulisic demonstrated a true example of America’s effort in this game: they put all their strength into scoring the goal that would knock Iran out of the World Cup and send the United States into the knockout. round.
Entering the match, our World Cup Predictions model gave Americans only a 38 percent chance of getting the three points they needed to advance. Iran only needed a draw, so the US was already facing the inertia of a draw game. Fans had a lot of doubts when the starting lineup was announced, and head coach Gregg Berhalter again left creative strikers Brenden Aaronson and Gio Reyna on the bench (you could check it out) #FreeGio hashtag If you didn’t mind the NSFW bragging about Berhalter’s player selection for this tournament).
But Berhalter’s defensive call was even more surprising: Centre-back Walker replaced Zimmerman with Cameron Carter-Vickers, pairing him with Tim Ream for the first time non-stop. It proved to be the right move: Carter-Vickers’ athletic build allowed him to come and feed the ball to dangerous right-back Sergiño Dest, while also helping Iran back out and smother several potential offensive opportunities. The US defense did not allow Iran to shoot until the 52nd minute and would have allowed only two shots in the 90th minute.
Dest continued his phenomenal tournament and quickly moved up from the fullback to complete 16 passes in the team’s third most offensive, third-team. By Opta Stats, Dest completes first 26 passes – and 26th was a massive head assist to Pulisic’s goal. The dynamic duo of Dest and Pulisic are among the leaders of the tournament in chance creation and finish, respectively, as we can see in these charts, which track the percentiles among all players in the tournament on various metrics:
The goal came at a price: Pulisic clashed with Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand and knelt on his stomach. Pulisic was down for a few minutes and was out of the game for a few more minutes. He finished the first half in blatant pain and was removed from the game at halftime and hospitalized. Her celebration social media post from the stretcher He insisted that an abdominal injury would not keep him out of Saturday’s last 16 games, but Americans around the world broke into a collective 55-minute sweat, including those on the field.
By the time the announced nine minutes of the second half stoppage time began, Iran had created only 0.25 expected goals with two chances. USMNT fans faced an unusual sight: American players wasted time to close a win as favourites, while belligerent weaklings pinched their heels (and legs and jerseys). But as the US pulled back to maintain its weak lead, Iran stepped up the pressure and eventually beat US goalkeeper Matt Turner with a heart-stopping goal:
But Zimmerman’s leave lead retained his win and his continued place in the tournament, proving to be the USA’s best game ever at the World Cup. With a plus-0.29 expected goal difference, this was the Americans’ first positive lead game of the tournament and their fourth best game at the World Cup. period since 1990. (Ironically, narrowly after Stars and Stripes’ infamous 1998 loss to Iran.)
“We showed what we can do for football in the first half” Berhalter spoke to Fox Sports after the game. “We showed what we can do with the second half determination.”
Pulisic may not be the USA’s best player on the field or this tournament on Tuesday. Who knows how well, or even how much, he can play on Saturday. Berhalter may even be forced into #FreeGio as his young squad faces an even tougher test against the Netherlands. But in a must-win competition, it set its players to do whatever it takes to do just that, and the efforts of Pulisic and the company got the job done.
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