Forty-five minutes down, another huge 45 to go.
The United States men’s national team holds a 1-0 lead over Iran in its Group B finale of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday.
A win gets the USMNT into the round of 16. Any other result and the U.S. would be eliminated with Iran, England and Wales all fighting to advance.
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Here are three takeaways from the first half:
Christian Pulisic meets the moment
When the U.S. needed a goalscorer the most, Pulisic stepped up to the moment.
The 24-year-old star forward netted the opener in the 38th minute thanks to brilliant passes from Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest in the build up, with Dest’s cross giving the right back the assist.
It’s a goal that could go down in the history books for the U.S.
Pulisic, however, was substituted at halftime with an abdominal injury he suffered when Alireza Beiranvand’s knee collided with the U.S. winger in the build up to the goal.
Attack, attack, attack
Gregg Berhalter came out with a 4-3-3 lineup with Tyler Adams in the single pivot, but the team has been far more aggressive than that.
With Iran’s defensive shape looking like a 4-4-1-1 low block, the U.S. has committed several bodies forward to overload the opposition’s backline. Dest and Antonee Robinson pushing up on the flanks have seen the U.S. go forward with a rare 6-2-2.
It’s a big gamble to leave just two defenders back, but it’s paying off so far with Tim Ream and Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Tim Weah, Josh Sargent creating chances
The United States’ aggression has been helped in large part thanks to Tim Weah on the right wing and Josh Sargent centrally.
Sargent came back into the starting XI after Haji Wright stepped in against England, and his hold up play down the middle kept the ball moving even though he didn’t get many shots on goal.
Weah, on the other hand, had some of the USMNT’s best chances with his speed and quickness with the ball causing havoc. He had a goal in stoppage time ruled out due to offside.