Before the World Cup, United States were going to get out of Group B and hit expectations by reaching the round of 16. First, Matt Turner has been excellent in goal, making it easy to move on from leaving Zack Steffen out of the World Cup squad. Second, Tim Ream has also settled the defense. These two shifts in the lineup have been huge successes and they're a big reason why this team has only allowed one goal in World Cup play despite facing one of the best attacks in the world in England.if the
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USA lineup vs. Iran
USMNT XI: Turner, Dest, Ream, Carter-Vickers, Robinson, Adams, McKennie, Musah, Weah, Sargent, Pulisic
Iran XI: Beiranvand; Mohammadi, Hosseini, Pouraliganji. Rezaeian; Hajsafi, Nourollahi, Ezatolahi, Gholizadeh; Azmoun, Taremi
USA's attacking question remains
But, on the other side of the pitch, the team has only scored one goal as a big question still looms about who the team's go-to goal scorer is. Tim Weah netted the only goal of the tournament for the USMNT but a traditional striker has yet to register a shot on target during this World Cup. In fact, only Yunus Musah and Weah have registered shots on target at all in the 180 minutes that the USMNT has played. Josh Sargent and Christian Pulisic have both struck the woodwork but only Pulisic is showing the ability to drive for goal and test the defense consistently.
Weston McKennie showed flashes of being able to do it against England and Haji Wright did take three shots, but most were ill-advised as none made it to Jordan Pickford. Against Iran, the team will need to get forward and hopefully get an early goal or it may end in disappointment.
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Jesus Ferreira scored one goal and assisted one more in World Cup qualifying while Sargent was held scoreless, only logging 116 minutes, but against Wales, it was Sargent who got the start. Given his performance, it surprised me that Sargent didn't get to follow things up with a back-to-back start against England because he was effective in pulling around defenders even when he didn't get a shot off.
Who should the USMNT start against Iran
With the USMNT attack struggling, maximizing chances for Pulisic and McKennie needs to be the goal. That's why, after considering all the options, Berhalter should start Sargent, he can bring the ball down in the air for them to run onto, potentially creating chances. Pulisic already has an assist from a similar situation while McKennie was lively against England as he works back to full health. With crosses from wide being a persistent part of the attacking build-up, a forward like Sargent can bring them down in good positions for his teammate.
The attack may be a concern, but this isn't the time to reinvent the wheel by trying something that the team hasn't done before. The defense being trustworthy since the inclusion of Ream in front of Turner gives them room to work with, but they'll need to score a goal or Iran, not the United States, will be the team heading to the round of 16.
How to watch and odds
- Date: Tuesday, Nov. 29 | Time: 2 p.m. ET
- Location: Al Thumama Stadium -- Doha, Qatar
- TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: Iran +290; Draw +240; United States -105 (via Caesars Sportsbook)