USMNT aims to secure knockout stage berth in FIFA World Cup with win over Iran
CHICAGO – The U.S. Men’s National Team has the opportunity to clinch a berth in the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a win against IR Iran on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Following two strong performances to kick off the tournament, including an inspired showing in a 0-0 draw against tournament favorite England on Black Friday, a victory against Team Melli would guarantee the USMNT passage to the Round of 16.
Kickoff for Iran-USA from Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar is set for 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on FOX and Telemundo.
The third and final group stage match has often proved pivotal for the USMNT at the World Cup as the USA seeks its sixth knockout stage berth in 11 tournament appearances. Tuesday’s game marks the second World Cup meeting between the U.S. and Iran at the FIFA World Cup following the match at France 1998.
After dropping its first match 6-2 to England, Iran netted two late goals against Wales to keep its advancement hopes alive and will be fighting to make it to the World Cup knockout stage for the first time.
U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM – 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS; HOMETOWN)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0; Lilburn, Ga.), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 22/0; Park Ridge, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (9): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0; Southend-on-Sea, England), Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 21/2; Almere, Netherlands), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 29/3; Oak Hills, Calif.), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC; 16/1; Powder Springs, Ga.), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 48/1; St. Louis, Mo.), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 31/2; Liverpool, England), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 3/0; Lake Grove, N.Y.), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF; 76/0; Seattle, Wash.), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 35/3; Lawrenceville, Ga.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 26/6; Medford, N.J.), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 54/2; Plano, Texas), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 34/1; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 12/0; San Diego, Calif.), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 39/9; Little Elm, Texas), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 21/0; London, England), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 32/0; Pico Rivera, Calif.)
FORWARDS (7): Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 15/7; McKinney, Texas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 50/11; Mercer Island, Wash.), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 54/21; Hershey, Pa.), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 15/4; Bedford, N.Y.), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 22/5; O’Fallon, Mo.), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 27/4; Rosedale, N.Y.), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 5/1; Los Angeles, Calif.)
USA SCHEDULE – 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP
|Date||Opponent||Venue||Time (ET)/Result||TV Info|
|Monday, Nov. 21||Wales||Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium; Al Rayyan, Qatar||1-1 D||—|
|Friday, Nov. 25||England||Al Bayt Stadium; Al Khor, Qatar||0-0 D||—|
|Tuesday, Nov. 29||IR Iran||Al Thumama Stadium; Doha, Qatar||2 p.m.||FOX, Telemundo
TOE-TO-TOE AGAINST THE THREE LIONS
Facing off against tournament favorite England, the USMNT was fearless and on the front foot for much of its 0-0 draw against the Three Lions on Black Friday. The midfield line of Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah and Christian Pulisic dominated in the middle of the park, putting the clamps on England’s vaunted lineup and sparking a number of scoring opportunities. McKennie nearly had the game’s opening goal in the 26th off a Tim Weah cross, but his half-volley skied over the crossbar, while forward Christian Pulisic hit the bar with a shot from the edge of the box in the 33rd.
TURNER STANDS TALL
Goalkeeper Matt Turner became the fifth USMNT netminder to earn a shutout in the FIFA World Cup, joining the ranks of Jimmy Douglas (3-0 W vs. Belgium and 3-0 W vs. Paraguay in 1930), Frank Borghi (1-0 W vs. England in 1950), Brad Friedel (2-0 W vs. Mexico in 2002) and Tim Howard (1-0 W vs. Algeria in 2010).
It’s the 15th career clean sheet in 22 international appearances for the New Jersey native, the fourth goalkeeper from the Garden State to start for the U.S. at the World Cup, following Douglas (1930), Tony Meola (1990, 1994) and Howard (2010, 2014). It’s been an incredible journey for Turner, who didn’t start playing until age 16 and considered quitting in college when a gaffe placed him No. 1 on SportsCenter’s “Not Top 10.”
YOUNGEST LINEUPS AT QATAR 2022
Youth has been a theme for the USMNT throughout this cycle and it’s continued here in Qatar. Already with the second-youngest roster at the 2022 FIFA World Cup behind only Ghana, the USA’s two lineups against Wales (25 years, 102 days) and England (25 years, 169 days) are the two youngest Starting XIs in the 28 matches that have been played at the tournament through Sunday evening. The lineups against Wales and England also rank fourth and fifth respectively in USMNT World Cup history, coming in behind the three Starting XIs that took the field at Italia ’90 (all just over 24 years old), when the squad was made up in part by semi-professional and collegiate players.
|Youngest Lineups at the 2022 FIFA World Cup (through Nov. 27)|
|USA||Nov. 21 vs. Wales||25 years, 102 days||0-0 D|
|USA||Nov. 25 vs. England||25 years, 169 days||1-1 D|
|Ecuador||Nov. 25 vs. Netherlands||25 years, 257 days||1-1 D|
|Ecuador||Nov. 20 vs. Qatar||26 years, 81 days||2-0 W|
|Spain||Nov. 27 vs. Germany||26 years, 193 days||1-1 D|
HAPPY BIRTHDAY YUNUS
Midfielder Yunus Musah will turn 20 on Tuesday when the U.S. faces Iran, capping off one of the most productive runs ever for a teenager representing the USMNT. His 21 international appearances tie Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore for most caps as a teenager, while his 20 starts and 1578 minutes played lead USMNT teenagers all-time. With his start against England, who he represented at the youth international level, he became the only teenager to make multiple World Cup appearances for the U.S.
RECORD-SETTING SUPPORT AT HOME
Friday’s match was watched by 20 million in the United States, making it one of the most-watched men’s soccer matches ever in the USA. More than 15 million viewers tuned in on FOX, making it the most-watched men’s match on English language U.S. television, while another 4.6 million watched on Telemundo. The USMNT’s most-watched match all-time came in the 2014 World Cup group stage against Portugal, drawing in 24.7 million viewers.
USA ROSTER NOTES:
- CAUTION WATCH: The USMNT’s Kellyn Acosta, Sergiño Dest, Weston McKennie and Tim Ream carry yellow cards into the match against IR Iran. If any are shown a yellow card on Tuesday, they will be ineligible for the USA’s potential Round of 16 match.
- The 0-0 draw with England was the USMNT’s first scoreless draw in World Cup play and first shutout against European opposition at the tournament since the 1-0 win against England in 1950.
- Substitutes Gio Reyna and Shaq Moore made their FIFA World Cup debuts. A total of 16 of the 26-man roster have earned their first World Cup caps in the last two matches.
- The Starting XI vs. England was the fifth youngest USMNT World Cup lineup after the three 1990 matches (all just over 24 years) and Monday’s match against Wales (25 years, 102 days).
- Haji Wright was the lone change from Gregg Berhalter’s XI that faced Wales. The Los Angeles product made his first World Cup start, replacing Josh Sargent in the lineup after coming on for him in the 74th minute of Monday’s tournament opener against Wales.
- Tyler Adams captained the USMNT for the 11th time against England. The team is 4-1-6 when Adams wears the armband.
- Tuesday marks the third meeting all-time between the USA and Iran, with the U.S. record at 0-1-1.
- It’s the nations’ second meeting at the FIFA World Cup. They previously met at France 1998, a 2-1 group stage defeat for the United States. Iran scored just before the half and bagged an insurance goal in the 84th minute before current USMNT general manager Brian McBride pulled one back in the 87th.
- The teams’ other meeting came in a January 2000 friendly at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., a 1-1 draw as Chris Armas scored for the U.S.
- The USMNT is 1-1-1 against Asian opposition under head coach Gregg Berhalter.
IRAN ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (4): Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina/ESP; 11/0), Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis; 53/0), Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal; 8/0), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan; 1/0)
DEFENDERS (10): Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal; 21/2), Ehsan Hajsafi (AEK Athens/GRE; 123/7), Majid Hosseini (Kayserispor/TUR; 20/0), Abolfazl Jalali (Esteghlal; 3/0), Hossein Kanaanizadegan (Al-Ahli/QAT; 36/2), Shojae Khalilzadeh (Al-Ahli/QAT; 25/1), Milad Mohammadi (AEK Athens/GRE; 47/1), Sadegh Moharrami (Dinamo Zagreb/CRO; 22/0), Morteza Pouraliganji (Persepolis; 48/3), Ramin Rezaeian (Sepahan; 47/3)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Vahid Amiri (Persepolis; 68/2), Saeid Ezatolahi (Vejle/ DEN; 49/1), Saman Ghoddos (Brentford/ENG; 33/2), Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi/BEL; 28/6), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord/NED; 66/13), Ali Karimi (Kayserispor/TUR; 15/0), Ahmad Nourollahi (Shabab Al-Ahli/UAE; 28/3), Mehdi Torabi (Persepolis; 37/7)
FORWARDS (3): Karim Ansarifard (Omonia/CYP; 95/29), Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen/GER; 67/41), Mehdi Taremi (Porto/POR; 62/30)
IRAN STAYS ALIVE
In its opening match of the tournament against England, Iran starting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand suffered a head injury in the game’s early going and the floodgates opened late in the first half as the Three Lions scored a 6-2 victory. Needing a result in its second match against Wales to keep its advancement hopes alive, Team Melli earned a dramatic 2-0 win on two late goals. Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was shown a red card in the 86th minute and Iran was able to put two past his replacement in stoppage time with defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi scoring in the eighth minute and defender Ramin Rezaeian securing the three points in the 11th.
IN FOCUS: IRAN
WORLD CUP HISTORY
- Qatar 2022 marks the fifth appearance for Iran at the World Cup and their third straight participation.
- Team Melli has never advanced from the group stage at the World Cup, finishing third behind Spain and Portugal at Russia 2018. Its four points at that tournament were its best-ever, topping Morocco and drawing Portugal.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
- Iran qualified for the World Cup as winner of one of the two Asian Football Confederation qualifying groups and is one of six Asian nations at Qatar 2022, the first World Cup held in an AFC nation.
- Team Melli went 8-1-1 in its 10-game qualifying campaign against Iraq, Korea Republic, Lebanon, Syria and United Arab Emirates.
- Iran punched its ticket with a win vs. Iraq on January 27 with three games still to play, becoming the first Asian nation to qualify for the World Cup.
- The team’s 49 goals in its two rounds of World Cup qualifying were second-most in the AFC, trailing only Japan’s 58.
- Sixteen of Iran’s 25-man roster ply their trade abroad across Europe and the Middle East in Greece, Turkey and Qatar (two players each), as well as Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, England, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
- Nine players come from the domestic Persian Gulf Pro League. Four players are based at Persepolis in Tehran, one of the country’s most successful clubs.
- AEK Athens defender Ehsan Hajsafi serves as captain and leads the squad with 123 caps for IR Iran.
- Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun is the team’s top scorer with 41 goals in 67 appearances for Team Melli. He’s followed by Porto striker Mehdi Taremi, who has netted 30 times for Iran in 62 games, including the goal against Iraq that punched the team’s World Cup ticket. He also scored both of Iran’s goals in the 6-2 defeat to England to open the tournament.
IRAN HEAD COACH: CARLOS QUEIROZ
- The longest-serving head coach in Iran’s history, Carlos Queiroz returned for a second stint leading Team Melli in September 2022 after Croatian manager Dragan Skočić guided the team through most of its successful qualifying campaign.
- A Portuguese native, Queiroz is the first manager to lead Iran at three FIFA World Cups. His first spell with the team lasted from April 2011 to November 2019, stepping down after Iran’s semifinal exit at the 2019 Asian Cup.
- Queiroz has recorded a 63-28-14 mark all-time at the helm of Iran.
- Prior to returning to Iran, he managed Egypt during its World Cup qualifying campaign. The Pharaohs narrowly missed out on Qatar 2022, falling to Senegal in penalties for a spot at the tournament.
- Queiroz has coached clubs and national teams on five continents, including Colombia, Portugal and South Africa’s national teams as well as Portugal’s Sporting CP and Japan’s Nagoya Grampus Eight.
- He coached the New York/New Jersey MetroStars during the inaugural 1996 MLS season and led the team, featuring USMNT stars Tony Meola, Tab Ramos and Peter Vermes.
The USMNT is the second youngest team at the World Cup and was by far the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, garnering valuable experience going through the rigors of World Cup qualifying. Through 14 qualifiers, the USA Starting XI came in at an average of 23.82, almost two years younger than the next closest team, Ghana at 25.67. Together, the other 31 participating teams averaged a Starting XI age of 27.5 through qualifying, nearly four full years older than the U.S.
From the available data for qualified teams, the USMNT played 10 of the 11 youngest lineups worldwide during the qualifying cycle, with all 14 lineups falling in the 23 youngest Starting XIs in the world dating back to October 2020.
The 2022 team ties the 1990 USA side for most U-23 players on a USMNT World Cup roster with nine: Tyler Adams (23); Brenden Aaronson, Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah (22); Jesús Ferreira (21); Gio Reyna (20); Yunus Musah and Joe Scally (19).
With the inclusion of Musah, Reyna and Scally, this is the first USMNT World Cup squad with more than one teenager named to the roster, though Gio Reyna turned 20 on Nov. 12 and Yunus Musah will do so on Nov. 29, the day of the USA’s final group stage match against IR Iran.
HIGHEST LEVEL FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY
While 25 of 26 U.S. players arrived to Qatar sans World Cup experience, the USMNT roster is no stranger to some of soccer’s biggest stages at the club level. Five of the 26 are participating in this year’s UEFA Champions League, the sport’s premier club competition, while 14 play for teams in the world’s top five leagues (England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France).
This USMNT World Cup roster boasts perhaps the most impressive list of club homes ever at the tournament, with players at some of Europe’s most storied teams. Forward Christian Pulisic helped Chelsea win the UEFA Champions League in 2020-21, becoming the first American to play in the UCL Final. Defender Sergiño Dest moved this season to reigning Italian champion AC Milan, while goalkeeper Matt Turner is plying his trade for English Premier League leader Arsenal. Midfielder Weston McKennie’s club Juventus won the Italian league championship nine times in a row from 2011-12 through 2019-20.
The USMNT’s World Cup squad reflects the success of the U.S. Soccer player development pathway, as many of the players came up through the U.S. Youth National Teams program and spent time in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and/or the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program.
Fourteen players – just over half the roster – have represented the USA in at least one FIFA Youth World Cup. Four took the field together at two separate tournaments: Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright at the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile, and Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers, de la Torre and Josh Sargent at the 2017 U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic.
Seventeen of 26 played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, run by the Federation as the nation’s highest level of youth soccer from 2007-2020 to maximize youth player development by positively impacting everyday club environments. Seven players participated in the Residency Program, an elite training environment for the country’s best youth players at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. From 1999-2017.
BE THE CHANGE
Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and continuing growth of the important Black Lives Matter movement, the members of the U.S. Men’s National Team were inspired to develop their own mission statement to send and spread a meaningful message. From a diverse and united group, a call to action emerged: Be the Change.
The spirit of our message is that each and every person has the ability, opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in their own way. The motto has been brought to life in a number of different ways. Last June, the USMNT advocated for stricter gun control with armbands and an imploring letter to Congress to pass legislation.
Now, with the eyes of the world on the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the USMNT and U.S. Soccer will continue to elevate and advance the Be the Change message, inviting everyone on the journey to make a positive and lasting impact.