Player Ratings USA: Christian Pulisic Leads Attack and Gregg Berhalter Gets Big Calls During World Cup

The United States men’s national team got the job done on Tuesday by beating Iran 1-0 in their final group stage match to advance to the round of 16 of the World Cup. Christian Pulisic was the hero and even though he was injuredhe scored the only goal of the match as the red, white and blue now face the Netherlands on Saturday with a spot in the quarter-finals at stake.

It was another positive performance for the US, building on the draw against England to beat the talented Iranians. The Americans have been pushed out of their pool at their last three World Cups and four of their last five.

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Gregg Berhalter’s starting eleven included all players who play for European clubs. It was the first time in a World Cup match that no MLS players were selected since the league’s inception in 1996. Shaq Moore (for Timothy Weah), Walker Zimmerman (for Sergino Dest) and Kellyn Acosta (for Weston McKennie) were introduced in the second half and avoided a complete MLS shutout of this game.

But how did they all play? Here are our player ratings — and while you’re at it, sign up here for our new newsletter about the beautiful game in all its glory, including daily updates on the World Cup.

Keepers

Didn’t need any saves. Was mostly a spectator, but did all the smart stuff like eat the clock when he could. He was always ready for whatever came his way, but it was mostly nothing.

Defenders

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Sergino Dest

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RATING7.5

MINUTES PLAYED82

Largely a liability in defense, as is often the case, but he must be credited with his fine header over the goal to help Pulisic’s winner. He will continue to offer more in the future, and this was his moment to take a big step with a great run.

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Cameron Carter Vickers

US • D • #20

The surprise starter at centre-back, he probably earned more minutes with that performance. He didn’t commit any fouls, he played smartly, and although there were concerns about a late penalty, he didn’t come close to committing a real foul. A confident display.

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Held up well against Iran’s talented forwards and cleared a crucial ball in 20 minutes. Looked strong in the air too. I didn’t even have to make a tackle that night.

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Anthony Robinson

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RATING7.5

MINUTES PLAYED90

He is really emerging as a young star in this team. The effort is always there, but he also played in some good crosses that no one on the other side could get from. He recovered the ball nine times and was just always calm when it mattered.

Midfielders

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He will never fail to amaze you with his stats, although he won all three tackles he attempted, but he is exactly the kind of leader every team needs. From telling Ream to slow it down early to wasting some time with a little showdown late, he’s the captain of this team.

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Pretty solid, but there was always the concern that he would give the game away with a bad passing. He failed to split the lines with his dribbles, but the hustle and heart were there to set the tone with these tackles and pressure.

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Weston McKennie

US • M

RATING6.5

MINUTES PLAYED65

Set up the first goal with a sensational pass to the back post and find a streaking Sergino Dest. It was the perfect pass. Came out early in the second half, but it is unclear if this was due to injury. Worth keeping an eye on.

Forward

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Jose Sargent

US • V • #24

Some decent hold-up play, but little else. Was taken out with an injury in the second half after stepping on the ball and looking like he hurt his ankle. Status unclear for Saturday.

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Christian Pulisic

US • M

A nice early run on target where he should have passed it but he ended up losing it. Got off to a good start late in the half with a strong ball in front of goal to score the opener. Taken to hospital with an abdominal injury, which could jeopardize his status against the Orange on Saturday. Time will tell.

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Timothy Wea

US • F • #21

RATING5.5

MINUTES PLAYED82

An evening of what-ifs? Had a golden chance in the first half on a loose ball in the penalty area and headed it straight at the goalkeeper in a shocking waste. Then he wasted another good look in the box minutes later. A goal called back for offside. However, his runs were solid.

Substitutes

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Brenden Aaronson

US • M

Kept the ball well in the second half, but never had the chance to come across as dangerous in attack.

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Came in for McKennie and did just enough. Nothing flashy, but it was effective.

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Haji Wright

US • V • #19

Nothing offered. On a counter he should have taken the ball to the corner to waste time.

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Mistake after mistake after mistake, from not listening to his keeper to release the ball to handing it back to Iran with sloppy passes.

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Walker Zimmerman

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Came in as third central defender and headed the ball out a few times.

Coach Gregg Berhalter

He deserves credit for scoring their second goal. The first was qualifying for the World Cup, the second was leaving the group. Everything that follows is just the icing on the cake. His substitutions didn’t work out too well and the injuries are a major concern going forward, but they finished the group stage unbeaten and with only one goal conceded. That’s impressive. ASSESSMENT: 7.5

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