DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Pulisic kicked the ball, scored the goal and crashed into the goalkeepera collision that sent the American star to a hospital and the United States to the second round of the World Cup.
More than an hour later, he FaceTimed his teammates to join in the celebration.
Pulisic’s 38th-minute goal stood, and the United States beat Iran 1-0 on Tuesday night in their politically charged rematch to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup.
“Every player is ready to put their body on the line to make sure this team succeeds,” midfielder Weston McKennie said.
After finishing second in Pool B with five points, two behind England, the United States plays the Netherlands on Saturday with a chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
“I always say it’s us against the world,” winger Tim Weah said, “because no one believed the United States could play good football.”
Back at the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the US needed a win to reach the Round of 16. Iran finished third in the group with three points and have failed to advance in six World Cup appearances.
“The dream is over,” Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said.
Fans talk before the Iran vs United States World Cup match on Tuesday. (Source: CNN)
McKennie started the play for goal when he passed the ball from just beyond the center circle to Sergiño Dest on the edge of the six-yard box. Dest headed the ball in front of the net on a rebound as Pulisic charged through midfield past Ramin Rezaeian and Majid Hosseini.
Twisting his body, Pulisic redirected the ball with his right foot for his 22nd international goal and first in a World Cup game. His momentum led him to goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.
“Christian does those races. That’s what he does. That is the special quality that he has,” USA coach Gregg Berhalter said. “As soon as the ball goes wide, he goes hard into the penalty area and good things happen.”
Pulisic was lying on the field and for about three minutes while receiving treatment. The tried to keep playing but was substituted early in the second half and taken by athletic trainer Harris Patel for abdominal exams at Hamad General Hospital, where Pulisic played along on phone apps. The United States Soccer Federation said Pulisic was diagnosed with a pelvic contusion, returned to the team hotel and is day to day.
“I texted him and checked, and he said, ‘You better believe I’ll be ready on Saturday,’” McKennie said.
Weah nearly doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time, but was declared offside.
Raucous Iranian fans with horns and drums in the crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind a goal at Al Thumama Stadium, a circular arena shaped like a gahfiya, a traditional headgear.
While the US outscored Iran 9-0 in the first half, Iran led 4-3 in the second, knowing they only needed an equalizer to advance. Berhalter inserted Walker Zimmerman in the 82nd minute and switched to a five-man defence.
Nine minutes of discount were announced. Morteza Pouraliganji’s diving header in the third minute went just wide. In the eighth minute, Cameron Carter-Vickers had a hand on Mehdi Taremi’s shoulder as the striker slid towards Matt Turner, the ball going past the keeper only for Zimmerman to clear it. Spanish referee Antonio Mateu denied Iran’s appeal for a video review, and the final whistle sounded after 10 extra minute.
“I hope our fans and our people in Iran will forgive us,” Taremi said.
Turner gave the US back-to-back World Cup shutouts for the first time since 1930. Inside the locker room, teammates tried to talk to Pulisic.
“Everyone was yelling, so we couldn’t really hear too much,” Turner said. “He dropped everything, put everything on the line there and was able to pass the ball to the other side of the line.”
Carter-Vickers, the son of former NBA player Howard Carter, made his World Cup debut in Zimmerman’s place and gave the US an all-European lineup for the second time in a competitive game since the Major began League Soccer in 1996, the one since the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup against Jamaica.
Josh Sargent injured his right ankle on a Hosseini tackle in the 74th minute and left three minutes later.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
The United States is 1-4 against the Netherlands, all friendlies.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved.