4:36 PM ET

With a loss or draw, the U.S. men's national team was eliminated from the World Cup.

The only goal of the game was scored by Christian Pulisic. The U.S. rarely looked as fluid in attack again after the substitution of Christian Pulisic.

For the fourth time in the last five World Cup in which the USA has qualified, it was necessary for the U.S. to suffer in the game's final stages, but it was enough for a win.

Player ratings, best and worst performers, highlights and notable moments, post- match quotes, and key statistics are included.

Rapid reaction

1. Pulisic the hero, but pays a price as Americans advance to knockouts

In this World Cup, despite setting up Tim Weah's goal in the opener, his play had blown hot and cold. His set pieces often failed to clear the first man during transition opportunities.

The U.S. was struggling to break down Iran's defensive wall in the early going. No one could question Pulisic's commitment or bravery as he put the U.S. on top in the 38thminute. Weston McKennie pinged a ball to Sergio Dest on the right wing, and Sergio Dest threaded the ball across goal to the on-rushing Christian Pulisic.

He was hurt when he collided with Iran keeper Alireza Beiranvand and paid a price for it. The game continued for the rest of the half, but eventually had to be stopped and replaced by a new player.

Christian Pulisic scores for the USMNT vs. Iran at the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 29, 2022. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Part of that was due to Iran taking a more aggressive posture in attack, and the U.S. will be praying for him to recover.

The substitution made by the U.S. manager appeared to be to see the match out. The Americans went with five in the back after Walker Zimmerman was moved to the bench.

There were many anxious moments at the end of the game as the U.S. didn't close out the game in textbook fashion. In the last moments of the game, a ball got behind Turner and was cleared by Zimmerman. The US did the job.

The match was seen as a referendum on the U.S. team. The United States would have been seen as a failure if they had exited the group stage.

The US can now approach the knockout rounds with an attitude that it has nothing to lose and everything to gain, thanks to continued stellar play by the U.S. defense.

2. The USA defense, and especially Dest, excels

Berhalter made a pair of changes to his starting XI, putting center backs Tim Ream and Cameron Carter-Vickers in place of Haji Wright and Josh Sargent in front of the goal.

It was his first game in the tournament and he and Ream had never played together before. The duo looked like they had been playing together for a long time, with one providing cover for the other on the rare occasion that one of their teammates got beat.

Ream was outstanding while Carter-Vickers was not. The U.S. will remember how the defense only allowed one goal from the run of play.

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Dest was one of the most effective defenders on the night.

It was Dest's ability to get forward that gave the U.S. a spark in the 17th minute.

It was a performance that made a difference.

3. Iran can't repeat heroics of 1998

Politically charged matches between the USA and Iran are always going on. Iran defeated the US in the 1998 World Cup to eliminate them from the tournament.

The Iranian flag with the emblem of the Islamic Republic removed was displayed by the U.S. Soccer Federation on social media. The posts were intended to support the protesters in Iran who were pushing for more equal treatment of women. The offending posts were removed and replaced with the actual flag, but the pre- game temperature had already reached the boiling point.

The Iranian players faced a lot of pressure because of their show of support for the protesters earlier in the tournament. Team Melli was supported by the announced crowd of 42,127.

Iran's manager will be questioned about his team's performance in the first half.

Team Melli's plan to sit back and strike on the counter seemed to rob Iran of the aggressiveness it showed in the 2-0 win over Wales. Iran's transition game was not able to string together the kind of passes that would threaten the U.S. defense.

It wasn't until the 52nd minute that Iran was able to register a shot, with substitute Saman Ghoddos heading over the bar. In the 65th minute, Ghoddos had a chance to hit the target.

Iran was desperate to find an equalizing goal that would send them through, so they pushed forward more, and came close on a late goal from Pouraliganji. That was followed by the vital clearance of the man. Team Melli was eliminated from the tournament because they couldn't beat the U.S. It will be a story worth following if the players are punished at home.

Player ratings

The USA has Matt Turner, Tim Ream, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sergino Dest, and Tyler Adams.

Subs: Haji Wright 3, Walker, and Zimmerman.

Alireza Beiranvand and Ramin Rezaeian each had 6.

Saman Ghoddos 6, Mehdi Torabi 5, Abolfazl Jalali 5, and Karim Ansarifard 5 were on the subs.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Sergino Dest, USA

The best attacking moments for the U.S. were provided by Dest's attacking play on the right flank, and his assist set up Pulisic for the crucial goal.

WORST: Sardar Azmoun, Iran

He was off his game in the win over Wales. He didn't give anything in the way of an attacking threat and was taken out at the half.

Highlights and notable moments

The Iranians were in danger throughout the first half, as the Americans went towards goal. An advanced stat measuring the likelihood of a team scoring was generated by Iran at the end of the half.

The goal came in the 38th minute as Christian Pulisic ran onto a cross from Sergino Dest.


Take another look at his first-ever FIFA World Cup goal for the @USMNT 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/s6tKehRLg2