World Cup: Americans’ goal is to win in knockout phase

The World Cup, as US trainer Gregg Berhalter says fondly, actually consists of two tournaments. The first, the Group Stage, is a four-man competition that simply qualifies teams for the Main Event, a single-elimination tournament ending in a champion on December 18th.

The USA qualified for these playoffs on Tuesday and beat Iran 1-0 to advance to the round of 16. While previous American teams considered just dropping out of the group a success, this team has bigger plans.

“When we came into the tournament, we had two goals,” said Berhalter. “The first thing was to get through the group stage and then move on to the knockout tournament. And from here anything can happen. All we have to do is play one game at a time. There is no need to project how far this team can go.”

Midfielder Weston McKennie apparently did not receive the second part of that memo because he said on Tuesday he saw no reason why the United States should not be playing for a title next month.

“We are here for a reason. We’re here for a reason,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t think we would make it out of the group. The bigger picture is to go as far as possible in the tournament and possibly play in the final.”

Only one US team in modern times has made it to the quarterfinals, but that doesn’t mean this team can’t progress, defenseman Walker Zimmerman said.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “When we step out of the group, we know that’s the case [first] Step. The only way to win the World Cup is to reach the knockout stages. So that’s check mark #1. But, you know, the conversation in the dressing room is, ‘Hey, we’re happy to win. But we have so much more from this group, so much more expectations from this team.’

“We said from the start, we’re unpacked, we’re here mentally until December 19th. We want to make that a reality, and for that we need one game at a time. But we are definitely not thinking of playing with house money.”

Qatari official disagrees with previous migrant death toll

A senior Qatari official involved with the country’s World Cup organization has estimated the number of migrant worker deaths for the tournament at “between 400 and 500,” a drastically higher number than any previous government estimate.

The comment by Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar’s Supreme Delivery and Legacy Committee, was made during an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan and threatened to rebrand criticism by human rights groups of the toll of the first World Cup in the Middle East revive hired migrant workers who built over $200 billion worth of stadiums, transit lines and new infrastructure needed for the tournament.

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

In the interview Portions Morgan has posted onlineasks British journalist al-Thawadi: “What is the honest, realistic total number of migrant workers that you think have died altogether – as a result of their work for the World Cup?”

“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500,” al-Thawadi replied. “I don’t have the exact number. This is something that has been discussed.” Qatar had previously put the number at 40, of which the Qataris described 37 as non-working incidents such as heart attacks.

“This is just the latest example of Qatar’s inexcusable lack of transparency regarding worker deaths,” said Nicholas McGeehan of Fairsquare, a London-based group that advocates for migrant workers in the Middle East. “We need accurate data and thorough research, not vague numbers heralded through media interviews.

“FIFA and Qatar still have many questions to answer, not the least of which is where, when and how these men died and their families received compensation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. World Cup: Americans’ goal is to win in knockout phase

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