Social Media Goes Crazy Over USMNT Win, Advancement to Knockout Round originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
After two stressful hours and 100 minutes of play, the U.S. Men’s National Team has in fact survived and advanced. The young American squad held on to a 1-0 lead to beat Iran and punch its ticket into the Round of 16.
The game was not for the faint of heart, however. After forward Christian Pulisic found the back of the net at the end of the first half, the U.S. fended off an entire second half of attacks by the Iranian offense.
Pulisic’s iconic goal came at a cost. The star forward, long known as Captain America, came up injured on the play. After a couple of minutes in which the U.S. team played down a man, Pulisic returned for the last stretch of the half but sat after the halftime break.
With Pulisic essentially out of the equation, the U.S. was forced to turn to rely on other stars to try to cushion its lead. First up, Tim Weah.
The hero of the team’s opening match almost recorded his second World Cup goal, but was ultimately called offside — without even consulting VAR.
While the U.S. didn’t end up needing that extra goal, they certainly would’ve appreciated it down the stretch as Iran continued to pressure up top. As fatigue set in and the U.S. looked to close out, they were greeted with nine minutes of stoppage time — the same amount of time Iran had when they scored two goals against Wales just days before.
The Iranian side once again showed the fight they can put up in stoppage time, sneaking a ball past the American defense and getting a quality look with minutes remaining in stoppage time. The ball bobbled through the legs of goalkeeper Matt Turner and was heading into the net when defender Walker Zimmerman launched it out of bounds.
Zimmerman, who came off the bench today, committed the crucial foul against Gareth Bale last week that gave Wales a point to draw with the U.S. Needless to say, all seems to have been forgiven in that game-saving play.
Even after the play, however, the Iranian team argued for a penalty kick, claiming that defender Cameron Carter-Vickers had fouled on the play.
By the time the whistle blew minutes later, players from both sides collapsed on the pitch, overwhelmed and exhausted by the emotions of the day.
The U.S. will take three days to reset and hopefully return Pulisic to form before it takes on the Netherlands on Saturday.
In the meantime, the team — and the country — is just enjoying the win. Even longtime keeper Zack Steffen, who was controversially left off the roster for Qatar, chimed in to offer his support.