The United States Men’s National Team moved on to the knockout stages of the World Cup with its win over Iran Tuesday in Qatar.
The team earned a 1-0 victory thanks to an intense goal by forward Christian Pulisic. In his follow-through, Pulisic collided with Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Pulisic was transported to the hospital before the end of the game and was diagnosed with a pelvic contusion. In an interview with Jenny Taft, Pulisic said he is doing everything he can to prepare for the next match.
In Group B, the U.S. team finished second behind England’s national team.
Evelyn Paniagua, a junior studying communication, was watching the game when the U.S. scored the winning goal.
“I thought it was pretty good that the U.S. is developing in a sport that they’re not very prominent [in],” she said.
Many viewed the USMNT as “underdogs” going into the competition. The U.S. team began competing in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, but have not qualified for 11 of the 21 games including the previous tournament in 2018. The team is yet to win a World Cup.
“People have them as the underdog to win it all, but I don’t know,” freshman Marco Alvarez said. “I don’t think that really happens.”
U.S. fans are excited to see their team this far into the competition.
“I feel like my patriotism is really coming out every four years with the Olympics and the World Cup,” Miles Collins, a junior studying business, said. “So right now, my patriotism is here to stay.”
With the U.S.’s presence in the World Cup this year, many fans are hopeful that the sport will pick up more popularity domestically.
“We haven’t had a strong male team for most of what I remember, so it’s exciting. I mean, I’m personally not a huge U.S. fan,” Haylie Murray, a junior who backs Germany, said. “But I think it’s cool to see soccer become a little bit bigger in the U.S. just because of that.”
Lola Mafoud, a junior studying cognitive science, was skeptical about the U.S. team advancing.
“I think they’re going to get knocked out in the next round,” said Mafoud, who played soccer for 14 years and is a fan of the Brazilian team. “I think they’re done there unless Pulisic pulls out a miracle, and I don’t know that he has it in him at the current moment.”
Other students expressed similar sentiments. For example, senior Lauren Faust who has played soccer for 15 years said that she doesn’t think the team has the “talent” to go much further.
In the knockout stage that begins with 16 teams, the U.S. faces a make-or-break situation in which winners advance and losers are eliminated.
They play the Netherlands at 7 a.m. PST on Saturday. The match can be streamed on FOX and Telemundo.