For Iran’s Carlos Queiroz, playing against U.S. will be special

Carlos Queiroz once spent a year trying to fix US soccer. As coach of the Iranian national team, he wants to try to beat the Americans on Monday.

“It took him maybe a year to analyze US soccer, to analyze youth development in US soccer,” said current American coach Gregg Berhalter. “I remember when I was with the national team in 1998 he was around and watching.”

At the end of the year, Queiroz submitted a 113-page report that was intended to be a blueprint for getting the USA to the World Cup finals by 2010. A dozen years later, Berhalter only hopes to get his team out of the group stage.

To do so, he must beat Queiroz, who is coaching Iran for the third time in the tournament, in a group final in which only one team advances.

Queiroz, 69, has coached a dozen sides in 10 countries, from European giants Real Madrid and Manchester United to Japanese minnow Nagoya Grampus Eight. Iran is the only place he has stayed for more than two and a half years.

On Monday, he summed up positively about his brief stint with the MetroStars in the inaugural MLS season and his year diagnosing the failings of US soccer.

FILE - The branding will be on display near the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar on March 31, 2022

⚽ World Cup 2022 in Qatar

“I had the opportunity to work for MLS in the early days of MLS and to help football grow up in the United States,” he said. “I also worked with the US national soccer team. It is therefore an honor and a privilege to be part of this great family of football, the United Nations of Football. As a compliment to the US national team, after those first two games, I can [sum up] in a word, the profile of the team – they jumped from football to football.”

The coaching against the USA at a World Cup is “particularly special,” said Queiroz.

The brush with nostalgia didn’t last long, however.

“This isn’t about yesterday. This is about tomorrow. Let’s try to do our best,” he said, noting that a win or a draw would take Iran to the second round for the first time since 1978. “It’s more special for us than for them.”

Iran stumbled over a 6-2 defeat by England in their opening game, a game in which they lost goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand to injury in the 20th minute. In the second game, Beiranvand’s reserve Hossein Hosseini scored a shutout, allowing Iran to win by two goals late in second-half injury time to beat Wales.

Iran's head coach Carlos Queiroz watches the Group B World Cup match between England and Iran.

Iran’s head coach Carlos Queiroz watches the Group B World Cup match between England and Iran November 21 in Doha, Qatar.

(Abbie Parr/Associated Press)

That leaves Iran on the edge of history, putting the Portugal coach in a pensive mood when Iranian reporters pressed him to say anything critical about the United States

“If after 42 years in this game as a coach I still believed that I could win games with these mental games, I didn’t learn anything about the game,” he said. “Our mission here is to create entertainment and make people happy for at least 90 minutes.”

Berhalter adds: “I look forward to getting to know him. I never really said hello to him. It would be nice to say hello to him before the game.”

Fan protests on the field

A fan ran onto the pitch holding a rainbow flag while wearing a blue Superman T-shirt with the words “Save Ukraine” during Monday’s game between Portugal and Uruguay at Lusail Stadium. Security officers ran down the field intruder and escorted him through a tunnel.

In the first week of the tournament, seven European teams were told they would be sanctioned if they wore multicolored One Love armbands during their World Cup matches. Fans also complained that they were not allowed to bring items bearing the colors of the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into the conservative Islamic emirate’s stadiums.

Rating record Mexico-Argentina

Telemundo and the Telemundo and Peacock streaming services averaged 8.9 million viewers for the Argentina-Mexico game on Saturday, which the broadcaster says is the largest Spanish-speaking audience ever for a group game.

Telemundo attracted 4.6 million viewers for the USA-England game on Friday, which combined with the 15.4 million English viewers on Fox brings the total US viewership for the game to almost 20 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For Iran’s Carlos Queiroz, playing against U.S. will be special

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