The United States Men’s National Team is in the knockout phase after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The USMNT advanced as Christian Pulisic put his body on the line for the game-winning goal. In the process of scoring, Pulisic suffered an abdominal injury that sent him to the hospital.
Without Pulisic in the second half, Iran came very close to tying the game several times. A draw would have sent Iran through to the next round and sent the Americans home.
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Alexi Lalas, a FOX Sports announcer and former USMNT member, knew the Americans needed to keep their foot on the gas after Pulisic’s goal.
«I said, ‘This is good, but we’ve got a whole second half,'» he said.The Brian Kilmeade Show.” “We knew that Iran was going to make some changes, and they did. Having said that, there was a sense of relief, especially in that first half. The United States played very, very well. And then, the second half came, and yes, those changes happened, and it was like, ‘Wait for the life of you, bend but don’t break,’ and they finally did. But there were some nervous moments. …
«Keep in mind the strategy involved where the US had to win the game. Iran didn’t have to win the game. That put the ball in the US court much more. But then they got the goal, and Obviously, Iran have to attack, and then at half time, they made some changes, Christian Pulisic was wonderful in the moment.
«Even though he got hurt and basically gave his body for his country at the time, he was very, very good, and I think he was a big part of the success in that first half. And then it was just about gutting him.» in that second half. Some of the things didn’t work out very well for Gregg Berhalter and USA in the second half, but in the end, they doubled up a lot, but ultimately didn’t break. They got the goal they needed. , they got the victory they needed and continue. That’s all that matters».
The Americans will now face the Netherlands and will be the underdog and will probably remain the underdog as long as they go.
However, that is a role that has been common for United States men’s soccer.
«We’ve been to World Cups where we’ve come out of groups before, so I think there’s a higher expectation, which I think is right and fair to do with this team,» Lalas said, noting that the only goal allowed by the USMNT in the group stage it was a penalty from Gareth Bale. «This Netherlands game is going to be tough, but the US is going to be in this wonderful, comfortable underdog role that we traditionally thrive in.»
At the same time, Lalas understands that the Netherlands is «on paper» the best team, and that the United States «will have [its] Hands full.»
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«This is a team that certainly isn’t going to fear the US. This is a team that will be looking to beat the US, but I also think this is certainly a game the US can win.» Lalas said. «Obviously you will need to play a very good game. You will have to be very smart. The substitutions will have to be better. The set pieces, which have been horrible, let’s be honest, throughout this tournament, are going to have to be better. .
«And, yes, you’re going to have to get a little help from the soccer gods, but everyone is going to have to get a little help at some point, regardless of how good you are. But this isn’t a team.» on the level of Brazil or France right now that the United States is facing relative to the Netherlands.»
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The round of 16 game begins on Saturday at 10 am ET.