After a 1-0 victory against Iran that earned the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) a place in the World Cup knockout stages, the players claim their campaign is far from over.
Having failed to qualify for the last World Cup, the tournament in Qatar is the first time since 2014 that the USMNT has reached the last 16, courtesy of hard-fought draws against Wales and England before Tuesday’s victory against Iran.
The team is now looking at higher ambitions.
“We’re not done yet,” prosecutor Walker Zimmerman told CNN on Wednesday morning. “I think it continues the narrative, we are still to try and do it and achieve the goal of finishing the World Cup.
“I think if we can do that, we’ll inspire a lot of young players, a lot of young Americans to pick up the game and, hopefully, make them proud.”
The USMNT’s best performance at the World Cup in recent memory was reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 before losing to Germany.
Gregg Berhalter’s side goes into Saturday’s knockout game against the Netherlands like a dog, eight places lower than any opponent in the FIFA world rankings.
But it is inappropriate to knock the confidence of the team.
“It’s nice to get to the next round, but we want to go,” Berhalter said this morning.
“We’ve got two tournaments that we’re looking at: the group stage tournament and the knockout tournament. Now, here we are in the knockout stages, we just want to keep this thing rolling.
Against Iran, the star forward Christian scored the only goal of the game before leaving the field with an abdominal injury.
Berhalter said Pulisic “hopefully” will be fit to play against the Belgians and praised the Chelsea player’s talent and work ethic.
Speaking on ABC’s Hello America, USMNT captain Tyler Adams said Pulisic “put everything on the line.”
“Of course, he is in great spirits,” added Adam. “Feeling a lot better now, but showing a great player for us in the most important moments. We put a lot of trust in important things.
Much of the build-up to Tuesday’s game between the US and Iran has focused on the political tensions between the two nations.
Iran’s state media demanded the US to throw the tournament after the US changed Iran’s soccer flag on its social media accounts to show support for protesters in Iran.
The governing body told CNN that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show that “women in Iran are fighting for basic rights,” but always planned to return to the original flag.
Iran appeared on the world stage under the shadow of domestic unrest following widespread protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by Iranian police after allegedly not adhering to the country’s conservative dress code. . Iranian security forces have since responded violently to the protests.
There are concerns about the safety of Iranian players returning home after the team initially refused to sing Iran’s national anthem before their first game in an apparent show of solidarity with demonstrators. The team’s family was also threatened with arrest and torture before the match, so they were said to be involved in the security of the games.
At the end of Tuesday’s game, players from both teams hugged in an apparent show of solidarity.
US defender Antonee Robinson was seen hugging a visibly upset Ramin Rezaeian, who claimed to have been hugged by a Fulham player, and comforting Abolfazl Jalali, who was curled up on the pitch after the match ended.
Meanwhile, Josh Sargent, DeAndre Yedlin and Timothy Weah prayed to console Saeid Ezatolahi, who buried his head in his hands while sitting on the turf, and the loss of the team went on.
“We know first and foremost what it means to lose competitors,” Zimmerman said. “We also know the stakes of the World Cup, and then on top of all that we do emotionally.
“We just congratulated them on their effort and encouraged them and let them know that we are proud of the way they competed in the game yesterday.”