USA post Iran World Cup Nov 29, 2022; Doha, Qatar; United States of America defender Shaq Moore (18) and midfielder Weston McKennie (8) celebrate after winning a group stage match against Iran to advance to the round of sixteen during the 2022 World Cup at Al Thumama Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

It was an incredibly stressful week for USMNT fans but the United States survived the group stage without losing and they advance to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup. The USMNT will face the Netherlands Saturday at 10 AM ET.

After 1-1 and 0-0 draws to Wales and England respectively, the USMNT’s goal on Tuesday was simple. A win against Iran, nothing else matters. Knowing their objective, the United States went all out to try and score but they weren’t successful at first. But in the 38th minute, Christian Pulisic sent the ball and himself into the goal. Pulisic got injured in the process, needing to be subbed out after halftime for an abdominal injury, but his sacrifice got America the 1-0 lead.

After that, it was the USMNT trying to protect that lead. Toward the end of the match, USA manager Gregg Berhalter put on defensive subs and had a five-man backline. It was risky because Iran would have more opportunities but the hope would be to crowd the box and give them low-percentage chances.

That almost backfired a few times and Iran came very close to equalizing but in the end, the USMNT held on and sealed the 1-0 win. England defeated Wales 3-0 to top the group with seven points, with the United States finishing with five.

It wasn’t just soccer players and fans cheering on the United States. Athletes from a wide range of sports were watching and cheering on the boys abroad.

Many lamented the penalty during the Wales match and felt it was two lost points for the USMNT but that ultimately didn’t matter. Had the United States won 1-0, they would’ve tied England on seven points but England would’ve had a way higher goal differential and finished first regardless.

Now it’s the Netherlands, a dark horse to win the World Cup, who will be the USMNT’s round of 16 opponent. Sure, the Netherlands are the better team and they will be the favorites but one thing the USMNT have going for them is that their defense is preventing teams from scoring in open play. Sometimes it’s all about survival and if you can get the Dutch to penalties, it becomes a coin flip as to who advances.

Yes, it’s likely the USMNT will be eliminated in the round of 16 but in a World Cup that has seen many upsets, you never know.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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