DOHA, Qatar — Christian Pulisic hit the ball, scored a goal and then crashed into the goalkeeper in a collision that sent the American star to the hospital and sent the United States into the second round of the World Cup.

More than an hour later, he FaceTimed his teammates to join in the celebration.

His 38th-minute goal held up as the United States beat Iran 1-0 in their politically charged second leg on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup.

“Every player is willing to put their body on the line to make sure this team is successful,” United States midfielder Weston McKenney said.

The Americans finished second in Group B with five points, two behind England, and will play the Netherlands on Saturday with a chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

“I always say it’s us against the world,” forward Tim Weah said. “No one believed that the USA could play good soccer.”

Pulisic was lying on the field and near the goal for about three minutes while he was treated by U.S. officials. He tried to play on, but was replaced by Brenden Aaronson early in the second half and underwent an abdominal scan.

“I texted him and checked him and he said, ‘I better believe I’ll be ready on Saturday,'” McKenney said.

US coach Greg Berhalter said Pulisic was injured below the abdomen and felt dizzy.

Back at the World Cup after missing out on the 2018 tournament, the USA started with draws against Wales and England and needed a win to advance to the round of 16.

Iran finished third with three points. The team failed to advance in all six World Cup appearances.

“With this result, the dream is over,” Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said. “The USA started the game much better than us, rather with better control of the game.”

Furious Iranian fans with bugles and drums in the crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind one goal at Al-Tumama Stadium and were far louder than the American fans in red, white and blue at the other end and behind the Americans’ bench.

The USA outscored Iran 9-0 in the first half, but didn’t break through until Pulisic came up with a highlight reel that a growing and increasingly demanding fan base at home had been waiting for.

McKenney made a pass just outside the center circle to Serginho Desta on the edge of the box. Dest headed the ball in front of the net after a rebound as Pulisic flew past Ramin Rezayan and Majid Hosseinind in the center of the pitch.

Turning for the ball to hit his right foot, Pulisic redirected the ball to score his 22nd international goal and first of the World Cup. His moment took it past goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

“Christian makes those runs. This is what he does. This is his special quality,” said Berhalter. “Once the ball is around, it goes to the box with intensity and good things happen and you score goals.”

Berhalter thought Pulisic got phone updates in the second half.

Weah, who scored the Americans’ goal in the opening 1-1 draw with Wales, almost doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time but was ruled offside.

With England ahead of Wales, Iran knew they only needed a draw to progress and finally had their first shot at goalkeeper Matt Turner when Saman Godas headed over the bar in the 52nd minute. In the 70th minute, Saeed Ezatolahi sent an open shot high and wide and Marteza Pouraliganji headed in the third minute nine minutes into stoppage time.

In the ninth minute, Walker Zimmerman headed the ball in front of an open goal after Cameron Carter-Vickers had easily brought down Mehdi Toremi.

“I hope our fans and our people in Iran will forgive us. I’m just sorry,” Toremi said.


Cameron Carter-Vickers, son of former NBA player Howard Carter, made his World Cup debut in place of Zimmerman and provided Team USA with an all-European lineup for the first time in World Cup history.


The USA squad averaged 24 years and 321 days, the youngest team in the tournament so far and the youngest World Cup squad for the Americans since 1990. Yunus Musah turned 20, the first American to appear in a World Cup match on his birthday.


The USA is 1-4 against the Netherlands, in all friendlies, overcoming a two-goal deficit to win 4-3 in Amsterdam in 2015.

“I think it’s the American spirit, the way this band plays, and I think people will appreciate that,” Berhalter said.

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