USA focused on ‘knockout game’ vs. Iran after England draw

AL KHOR, Qatar — US midfielder Christian Pulisic said he hoped his side’s performance in the 0-0 draw with Group B favorites England in the United States “made a lot of people proud”, but also conceded admitted that he and his teammates had done so “I still have a lot to do.”

The result leaves the USA in third place in Group B, two points behind leaders England and a point behind Iran, who beat Wales 2-0 on Friday earlier. The United States will face Iran in the group stage final on Tuesday.

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It was a game in which England had more possession but USA created the better chances when Pulisic hit the bar with a shot in the first half. England put the Americans under pressure at times in the second half, but the US defence, cleverly deployed by Tim Ream, held up.

“A draw isn’t the worst thing, but I felt there were times when we showed confidence and played a lot, created chances and could even have won the game,” said Pulisic.

“But all in all I thought we did a pretty good job.”

The game was hailed as an opportunity for USA to show they could take on one of the game’s heavyweights. Pulisic thinks USA have done so to a certain extent but knows that reaching the knockout rounds will do even more to attract new fans.

“Everyone at home is watching, I hope we’ve made a lot of people proud,” he said. “But the work isn’t even close to done, so we still have a lot of work to do.”

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US coach Gregg Berhalter echoed many of Pulisic’s views, saying his side put in a “disciplined performance”.

As the USA head into their final group game against Iran, they know they need a win to advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup for the fifth time since 1994.

“The end product could be even better… I’m happy with the overall performance of the group, especially with the faith of this group because that has never wavered,” said Berhalter.

“What I saw before the game was a team that was extremely focused on getting results. In the end she sets up our first knockout game of this World Cup and that will be our focus.

“We played with a lot of vigour, but we have to be ready for it [against Iran]. We want a chance to go through… We know it’s going to be a tough game and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

USA are concerned they are still struggling to make the most of their chances as Weston McKennie missed a huge opportunity in the first half.

Berhalter expressed his satisfaction with his side’s positions but noted: “It’s difficult to score goals.”

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/united-states-usa/story/4814211/usa-focused-world-cup-knockout-game-vs-iran-after-england-draw USA focused on ‘knockout game’ vs. Iran after England draw

Emma Bowman

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