Iran win another step as US soccer tries to boost interest

Nov 29, 2022, 8:39 PM | Updated: Nov 30, 2022, 10:41 am
United States' Tim Weah (21) reacts after losing the ball out of bounds during the World Cup group ...

United States' Tim Weah (21) reacts after losing the ball out of bounds during the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

              United States' Yunus Musah, right, Aaron Long, center, and United States' goalkeeper Sean Johnson celebrate after defeating Iran in the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Goalkeeper Matt Turner of the United States reacts during the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — American soccer hopes to be ascendant, to challenge the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA in the competition for U.S. market share.

Reaching the final 16 with Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Iran was another step for a team whose success is measured in television viewers and buzz along with final scores.

“I don’t know the final numbers, but I’m sure there was a lot of people watching,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “You see how resilient this group is. You see how unified this group is. You see what type of energy and output they put into every single game. And then along the way, there’s some pretty good soccer. That’s the American spirit, the way this group plays, and I think people will appreciate that, especially back home.”

The Americans opened with a 1-1 draw with Wales that was seen by 11.7 million on English- and Spanish-language U.S. broadcasts and followed with a 0-0 tie against England that was viewed by 19.98 million on Black Friday, when schools were off and many offices closed.

President Joe Biden took note of the victory over Iran when speaking in Bay City, Michigan.

“They did it! God love ’em,” Biden said.

A victory on Saturday against the Netherlands would put the U.S. in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. The status of Christian Pulisic is uncertain after he bruised his pelvis crashing into the goalkeeper while scoring against Iran. The U.S. Soccer Federation did not make Pulisic available to media on Wednesday but posted a video of him dribbling a ball.

“We may be the underdog,” said Brenden Aaronson, who replaced Pulisic at the start of the second half. “The Dutch are a world power and they’ve been that for many, many tournaments. So I think for us, it’s just going in there with no fear and playing the way we have been this entire tournament. And I think good things will come out of it.”

Matt Turner, the first U.S. goalkeeper with consecutive World Cup shutouts since 1930, was overcome with emotion at the final whistle. Turner thought back to how the U.S. performance in 2010 helped convert him to soccer.

He was a high school baseball player who played soccer fulltime, then switched emphasis. Turner’s journey took him to a Major League Soccer debut in 2018, a transfer to Arsenal last summer and now success on soccer’s biggest stage.

“This is just an unbelievable experience for me, given my story,” he said. “Almost everything is a carbon copy of the feelings that I felt as a fan in 2010. And to be able to have a say in the result that gets us through to the next round is huge — it was just very emotional for a lot of reasons for me.”

The American lineup against Iran was the youngest of any team at this year’s tournament and the youngest for the Americans since 1990, averaging 24 years, 321 days. Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, a former U.S. Soccer Federation adviser, praised their pace, which forced his team to adjust.

“When we play a team with Ferraris who need space to accelerate, the best way to play against them is to close the highways so they can’t gain speed,” he said.

A daunting task against the Dutch is ahead: The U.S. has five losses and six draws in 11 World Cup matches against European opponents since upsetting Portugal 3-2 in a 2002 opener.

“It’s a great opportunity but it’s not something that we’re going into it thinking it’s an honor. We deserve to be in the position we’re in and we want to keep going,” Berhalter said. “So for us, it’s about how we recover from this game and prepare to play against a very good Dutch, very well coached, ton of quality all over the field, and we have to come up with an idea of how to beat them.”

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Rique Newby-Estrella, left, and Nina Ouellette perform during the pairs free skate at the U.S. figu...
Associated Press

Knierim, Frazier capture pairs gold at US skating nationals

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A long time coming getting back to the top of the podium, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier captured another national pairs gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night with a spectacular free skate that scored them an overall season-best 227.97. The reigning world champions were forced to […]
19 hours ago
Ottawa Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg, center, watches for the puck as Senators defenseman Niki...
Associated Press

Giroux scores twice as Senators scorch Canadiens 5-0

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Claude Giroux scored twice and added an assist as the Ottawa Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-0 on Saturday night. With the win the Senators are riding a three-game winning streak. Ottawa was coming off a 6-2 win over Toronto on Friday night. The Senators are now 6-2-0 in their last […]
19 hours ago
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates his goal against the Los Angeles Kings...
Associated Press

Lightning beat Kings 5-2 for 12th straight home win

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Brayden Point had a goal and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Saturday night for a franchise-record 12th consecutive home win. Victor Hedman, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Corey Perry and Ross Colton also scored for Tampa Bay, which has won three in a row overall. […]
19 hours ago
Houston Rockets guard Daishen Nix (15) makes a layup during the second half of an NBA basketball ga...
Associated Press

Rockets beat Pistons 117-114 in matchup of NBA’s worst teams

DETROIT (AP) — Kenyon Martin Jr. had a four-point possession with 31 seconds left to help the Houston Rockets beat the Detroit Pistons 117-114 on Saturday night in a matchup of the NBA’s worst teams. Eric Gordon led the Rockets (12-38) with 24 points. Martin had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Tari Eason added […]
19 hours ago
Orlando Magic center Moritz Wagner (21) defends against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) dur...
Associated Press

DeRozan, LaVine lead Bulls to 128-109 win over Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine each scored 32 points, Nikola Vucevic added 26 points and 13 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls turned back a late rally and beat the Orlando Magic 128-109 on Saturday night. Mo Wagner led the Magic with 27 points, combining with Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs to […]
19 hours ago
Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart (13) is mobbed by teammates after he scored during an overtime...
Associated Press

Reinhart scores 17 seconds into OT, Panthers beat Bruins 4-3

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sam Reinhart scored 17 seconds into overtime to cap a late scoring flurry and give the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the NHL-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday night. After David Pastrnak scored to give the Bruins the lead with 48.6 seconds left in regulation, Florida captain Aleksander Barkov tied it […]
19 hours ago
Iran win another step as US soccer tries to boost interest