Jeff Carlisle and Gabriel Tan ESPN Nov 29, 2022 Reading: 6 min.
DOHA, Qatar — The drama surrounding the U.S. men’s team against Iran came to a head on Tuesday. Not only do they play all the pitches, but because the pitch is boring among the world’s rivals.
At this World Cup, discussions have centered around the situation in Iran, where 410 protesters have been killed in two months of unrest following the death of a 22-year-old woman while in the custody of the country’s police. In an attempt to show solidarity with those protesters, the US Soccer Federation briefly displayed Iran’s national flag on social media without the Islamic Republic’s emblem, prompting a furious reaction, as the Iranian government accused the confederation of removing the name of God from the flag.
USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t help Iran’s former soccer culture after their 2-0 win over Wales on Friday.
This is the situation in which the final stage of the group will take place on Tuesday. On the field, two regions will compete for a place in the round. The United States sit third in Group B with two points after draws against Wales and England and must beat Carlos Queiroz if they are to reach the round of 16. Meanwhile, second-placed Iran will advance to the group stage with no result other than defeat.
This match is set to be one of the biggest in the group scene. So how do you start playing the game right away? ESPN asked Jeff Carlisle and Gabriel Tan to explain how these two teams match up.
What did the US do? Why not?
The US excels in defense so far, which has been a pleasant surprise. Center back was supposed to be a weak point, but the insertion of Tim Ream into the lineup alongside Walker Zimmerman has done wonders. They just didn’t do that, with Tyler Adams winning an impressive 85.7% of his shots. As a team, the USA has been effective against England’s pressing and uncertain team, and Matt Turner has been solid in goal. The only drawback, and it was a big one, was the penalty Zimmerman conceded against Wales.
The big problem for Americans was that they couldn’t find their net consistently. Coach Gregg Berhalter felt his team created chances, but didn’t finish them. There is some truth to that, as the US underperforms in terms of expected goals (1.42) compared to actual goals scored (1). It is a fact that 26 of the 32 teams are in the World Cup, and the US is tied for 15th in terms of accidental creation with 14th.
It’s a big problem that the US has struggled to make in transition, as the finals are often the odds. The Americans were also unlucky in certain pieces, which was supposed to be the strength of this team. Against Wales this was decided by Christian Pulisic because of some poor people, although this was corrected in England. — Carlisle
What did he do in Iran? Why not?
A sleepless start to the tournament saw Iran fall to a comprehensive 6-2 defeat in England, and one that was clearly not needed, Queiroz’s approach was too cautious, considering the number of goals conceded, despite placing 5-. 4-1 formation, full of defensive players. Even the Three Lions conceded that night did not help Iran’s cause, but its outcome was not without positive aspects, as star striker Mehdi Taremi showed what he is capable of with two goals.
It also seemed as though Queiroz was writing off the England tie as one Team Melli could afford to lose, with regular starters Sardar Azmoun and Saeid Ezatolahi left on the bench.
Four days later, Iran showed much better what they are made of by dominating Wales, although they were late to claim a 2-0 victory with two stoppage time goals. With the two-pronged attack of Taremi and Azmoun always offering choice, and with the Iranian wing players often slowing down and dragging the game, the Welsh defense was torn apart and the Iranians felt they had won by a margin. .
The difference between when Iran is on the defensive and when it intends to attack is striking. — So
Where this game will be won and lost
I think two parts of the field will be key. On the defensive end, the US needs to extinguish Iran’s transition opportunities. With Iran only needing a draw to advance, Team Melli will be expected to relax and absorb the pressure and then hit their opponents at half time.
On the attacking side, the opposing penalty area is where the US will need to be much better in terms of passing and finishing. It’s also a game that cries out for John Reyna’s technical skills. It remains to be seen whether he will start as a hitter this way or if he will remain handy. Berhalter said Monday that he is not looking for his three pieces (Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Haji Wright), but given the stakes, he has to find a way to attack the players on the field the most. — Carlisle
Queiroz understands that he has two top tiers in Taremi and Azmoun. She has already shown in particular what she can do against the quality of the opposition in England, and it is no surprise, having scored five times for FC Porto this season alone for the Champions League.
The key to Tuesday’s victory, as against Wales, could be ensuring that both sides get a steady supply of chances in one-on-one situations.
Still, to start working the ball in and around the opposition’s box, you will first need to have possession, and that is where the battle in the room between the American duo Adams and Weston McKennie and the Iranians Ezatolahi and Ahmad Nourollahi could be essential. — So
EE. UU 2-1: I think the US will do, but by a very small margin. Look for McKennie to score, if not both, by a certain margin. — Carlisle
Iran 2-1: The team of Melli will not lack motivation to rise to the occasion and, for the second tournament in a row, they have the quality behind it. Last time out Spain and Portugal proved too much to win in the end, but Iran will believe that after beating Wales they can do the same against the USA in the Round of 16. — So