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Christian Pulisic Put The USMNT Up 1-0 On Iran While Crashing Into The Keeper

The USMNT arrived at Tuesday’s final group stage game with Iran with a very simple scenario facing them: win and advance, lose and go home.

While there were a couple scenarios that could play out in terms of their seeding in the group depending on what happened in England-Wales, there was only one thing that mattered and that was getting a win. That seemed to free up what had been a sluggish American attack early in the game to go for it, as they dominated possession early, creating a number of potential chances but weren’t able to put anything past the Iranian keeper or even really threaten him for the first half hour. That all changed in the 38th minute when Weston McKinnie delivered a ball over the top to Sergiño Dest, who put a headed cross across the face of the six-yard box and found Christian Pulisic who hammered it into the back of the net to put the U.S. up 1-0.

It was a sensational goal that the Americans desperately needed after struggling to finish chances in the first two matches. Had they gone to halftime once again dominating play but failing to get a goal out of it, it would’ve allowed nerves and doubt to really start creeping in.

The goal didn’t come without some concern though, as Pulisic collided with the keeper and stayed down for a few minutes on the goal line, before eventually being helped up and limping around, grabbing at his left thigh, before ultimately returning to the game. Now the Americans will spend the second half looking to add another goal while not getting caught out in a counter attack — which Iran had a couple opportunities on in the first half — but it was a deserved result for the better team in the first 45 minutes.