FIFA World Cup: It’s Now or Never for Team USA – Update

Posted on: November 29, 2022, 01:32h. 

Last updated on: November 29, 2022, 04:08h.

UPDATE: The US Men’s Team hung on to win 1-0 and advance to the Round of 16. Christian Pulisic scored the team’s only goal on the way to victory, but paid for it, too. He ran into Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand as he moved in for the shot and took a major hit. Although he initially tried to stay in the game, he was forced to leave when it became obvious his injury was worse than it initially appeared.

EARLIER: Iran’s government really wants its team to beat the US in their World Cup matchup on Tuesday. Players have reportedly received threats of violence if they don’t sing the national anthem. Imagine what would happen if they were to lose.

The US Men’s National Team huddles during a World Cup game. They now face Iran in their last bid to stay alive. (Image: Getty Images)

Iran and Team USA are now on the field in what could be the final World Cup match for one or the other. The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) must win outright if it wants to stay alive and advance to the Round of 16.

This will be the second time these two have met in a World Cup. Today has special significance for many US fans, as it relives the moment when Iran and the US met in the 1998 World Cup match in Lyon, France. Iran walked away with a win in that game.

Politics More Than Soccer

That match has been described as the most politically charged match in World Cup history. This was due primarily to hostile geopolitical relations between the two countries at the time, which still continue today.

Before the 1998 game, tensions couldn’t have been greater. Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, even threatened to pull the team out of the game because he didn’t want the players to shake hands with the American team, as protocol dictates.

That day, American and Iranian players posed together, hugging and with bouquets of flowers, in a photograph that became the face of the “party for peace.” When the match ended, US defender Jeff Agoos asserted, “We did more in 90 minutes than the politicians did in 20 years.”

Some things have fallen since that match, but the tension in Iran continues. For weeks, protests have taken place in Iran over the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in September for “inappropriate” clothing. Several children have been among more than a dozen people killed in the protests.

In Iran’s first match against England, the team didn’t sing the national anthem, which was interpreted as a gesture of support for the protests. During their second match against Wales, the team sang the anthem, but in a reserved manner.

This didn’t sit well with the Iranian regime, which has laid down the law. CNN reports that players were told that if they didn’t sing, their families would be tortured.

Sportsbooks are giving the USMNT the nod, putting them in front at +100 on the moneyline. That’s only slightly better than Iran’s +300. This is going to be a tough – and perhaps at times dirty – match on both sides of the ball with everything on the line.

Round of 16 Taking Shape

In this World Cup, there have been some surprises, and there have been several groups in which the first two positions have yet to be defined. Except for the French teams in Group D, Brazil in Group G, and Portugal in Group H, the rest of the groups are still in the air.

All three of those teams managed to secure the first position by winning the two games played and accumulating all six points that were available. France and Brazil were already on the shortlist for World Cup championship contenders, and Portugal is now moving up.

Brazil and France occupy the top spots, getting +250 and +550, respectively, on Bet365. Next is Spain at +650, although it will have to do better than it did against Germany last Sunday.

Argentina and England are toward the top of the list, getting +800 and +1000, respectively. However, England has dropped a little since the first rankings appeared.