Soccer fans celebrate as the USA score in the first half as they play Iran in their FIFA 2022 World Cup soccer match at The Globe Pub in Chicago


It was a celebration eight years in the making, but American soccer fans finally toasted a round-of-16 berth at the World Cup, thanks to Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Iran in the Group B finale. 

Following Christian Pulisic’s go-ahead goal in the 38th minute, Team USA supporters from New York to Los Angeles burst out into applause, albeit only momentarily. That excitement turned into a few nervous moments as Pulisic remained on the turf with an apparent injury following the score. He would briefly return, but was subbed out at halftime.

The US needed the win over Iran in the Group B finale to advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 2014, but that victory was anything but a sure thing against a surging Iranian team coming off a 2-0 win over Wales. Tuesday’s second half included more than a few nervous moments as Iran generated a series of scoring chances. The Americans now advance to face the Netherlands on Saturday at 10am EST. 

For many, enjoying a daytime World Cup game in a bar marks a new experience for the growing number of American soccer fans. The team didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia – considered one of the greatest disappointments in USMNT history – and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was played at convenient times for American audiences, given the shared time zones.

Since then, soccer has moved ahead of hockey to become the fourth most-watched sport among Americans, who have grown accustomed to watching European matches on weekend mornings. And increasingly, those matches are played by Americans, like Chelsea’s Pulisic, or Leeds United’s Tyler Adams.

Unlike last week’s match against England, Tuesday’s game was not seen on the jumbotrons lining New York’s Times Square, but soccer fans still found ways to watch, nonetheless. Some packed into bars and restaurants, while others took in the action at work on their computers and cell phones.

Soccer fans celebrate as the USA score in the first half as they play Iran in their FIFA 2022 World Cup soccer match at The Globe Pub in Chicago

Soccer fans celebrate as the USA score in the first half as they play Iran in their FIFA 2022 World Cup soccer match at The Globe Pub in Chicago

American soccer fans in Los Angeles burst into celebration after the US clinches its Group B finale against Iran on Tuesday

American soccer fans in Los Angeles burst into celebration after the US clinches its Group B finale against Iran on Tuesday 

World Cup fans gather at the Smithfield Hall watch the US match against Iran on Friday in New York City

World Cup fans gather at the Smithfield Hall watch the US match against Iran on Friday in New York City

Following Christian Pulisic's go-ahead goal in the 38th minute, US fans at Smithfield Hall if New York celebrate

Following Christian Pulisic’s go-ahead goal in the 38th minute, US fans at Smithfield Hall if New York celebrate 

Fans in Los Angeles watch Iran face off against the United States in their second ever World Cup meeting

Fans in Los Angeles watch Iran face off against the United States in their second ever World Cup meeting 

A United States fan watches the match on a screen in Bierhaus NYC, one of many bars catering to World Cup fans

A United States fan watches the match on a screen in Bierhaus NYC, one of many bars catering to World Cup fans 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, smiling US and Iranian fans mingled and posed for photos outside a stadium in Doha ahead Tuesday’s match.

The atmosphere was generally festive though the political divisions among Iran fans were apparent outside Al Thumama Stadium, as they have been during previous Iran games during the tournament, with pro-government fans confronting those expressing support for the antigovernmental protests across Iran.

Two London-based Iranians, wearing T-shirts with the slogan of protests, were repeatedly harassed while talking to an Associated Press journalist on Tuesday. One of them, who identified herself as Maryam, received a grazing slap to the face by an Iranian man following her. Security guards got between them, but did not detain the man who slapped her.

Other men blew vuvuzelas at the two or filmed them. One man shouted at them in Farsi ‘why don’t you think Iran is good?’

Dalia, an 18-year-old Iranian from the southern city of Ahvaz who attended the game with her parents, said Tuesday’s match had exposed divisions within her family between those still committed to supporting Iran’s national team and others who reject the players as tools of the government.

The Iranian players in Qatar have declined to comment or made vague statements about the protests in Iran, which were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

‘It’s so sad for me because I want to support them so badly but I just can’t,’ Dalia said.

United States fans celebrate after watching the match in Bierhaus NYC as United States qualify for the knockout stage

United States fans celebrate after watching the match in Bierhaus NYC as United States qualify for the knockout stage

World Cup fans gather at the Smithfield Hall watch the U.S. match against Iran on Friday in New York

World Cup fans gather at the Smithfield Hall watch the U.S. match against Iran on Friday in New York 

Josue Velasquez hold a flag during a watch party for the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States

Josue Velasquez hold a flag during a watch party for the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States

The Iranian players sang along to their national anthem before kickoff, which they also did against Wales. The players remained silent when the anthem played during Iran’s World Cup opener against England in what some interpreted as a show of support for the protest movement.

Mehrdad and Eli from Arizona brought pictures of the young women killed in Iran’s protests to the match. But holding them up invited harassment, they said, so Eli kept them in her purse. They described a deep sense of unease at the stadium.

‘I feel like I am surrounded by IRGC agents,’ said Mehrdad, referring to the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard. ‘Everybody’s watching you.’

Elsewhere, US and Iranian fans appeared unfazed by the tensions between the two countries, posing together for photos.

The two teams have played in a World Cup once before, in 1998 in France, when Iran beat the US 2-1.

‘It has been amazing to see Americans. They are so friendly,’ said Yas, a 14-year-old Iran fan from the city of Shiraz. ‘I hope this is a chance for people to connect and share their cultures peacefully.’

Her older sister had an X written with a black marker over her lips.

‘She’s doing that to show we all can’t talk about the politics in our country,’ Yas said.

US fans celebrates a goal as they watch the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B finale victory over Iran on Tuesday in Washington

US fans celebrates a goal as they watch the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B finale victory over Iran on Tuesday in Washington

There were more than a few nervous moments for Team USA fans as Iran mounted a strong comeback effort in the second half

There were more than a few nervous moments for Team USA fans as Iran mounted a strong comeback effort in the second half

The latest protests mark one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s ruling clerics since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought them to power. Rights groups say security forces have unleashed live ammunition and bird shot on the protesters, as well as beating and arresting them, with much of the violence captured on video.

At least 452 protesters have been killed and more than 18,000 detained since the start of the unrest, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests.

Iranian authorities announced just before the match that two former Iran players who were arrested this month in connection with the protests have been released.

Parviz Boroumand, a retired goalkeeper, was arrested nearly two weeks ago on charges of participating in protests in the capital, Tehran, and was accused of damaging property. Voria Ghafouri was arrested last week for ‘insulting the national soccer team and propagandizing against the government,’ according to state-linked media.

Gianni Infantino, the head of world soccer body FIFA, said in a statement he was ‘delighted’ that Ghafouri was released.

‘In taking this decision, I appreciate the support of the Iranian authorities, and in particular that of Hamid Sajjadi, the Iranian Minister of Sport and Youths, who I met around Iran’s match versus Wales,’ Infantino said. ‘FIFA maintains that dialogue and engagement should remain as the prime channel to resolving problems of any kind.’

Soccer fans look on during a watch party for the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States in LA

Soccer fans look on during a watch party for the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States in LA

You May Also Like

Anthony Gordon hailed by pundits after ‘making a big difference’ on Newcastle debut

Anthony Gordon is hailed by pundits after making his Newcastle debut off…

Joao Cancelo’s Man City exit was a huge shock, but Pep Guardiola clearly believes his side can cope

There probably was not one single bit of news around deadline day…

Erik ten Hag claims referees have to be consistent after Casemiro’s red card against Crystal Palace

‘You have to be consistent’: Erik ten Hag slams decision to single…

ROB DRAPER: Bayern Munich could be a good move for Harry Kane, but Man Utd are also interested

When the two greatest centre forwards in the Premier League come up…

Formal bids for Manchester United are due to be submitted in the next week

Formal bids for Manchester United are due to be submitted in the…

Player ratings: Lisandro Martinez and Marcus Rashford continue their fine form as United beat Palace

Manchester United clung on in dramatic fashion to earn a vital win…

Everton troll Arsenal fan Piers Morgan with a Sean Dyche meme

Everton troll Piers Morgan with a Sean Dyche meme after the Arsenal…

Brighton 1-0 Bournemouth: Kaoru Mitoma scores late winner again to earn a hard-fought victory

Kaoru Mitoma did it. Again. And Brighton have done it. Again. Mitoma…

Chelsea: Christian Pulisic claims he’ll be ‘back soon’ as he continues knee injury recovery

‘Back soon’: Christian Pulisic shares a positive update as he continues his…

Hearts loanee Stephen Humphrys scores sensational goal from his OWN HALF

Hearts loanee Stephen Humphrys scores a sensational goal from his OWN HALF…

Former Sky Sports TV presenter Simon Thomas opens up on the difficulties of being ‘truly freelance’

TV presenter Simon Thomas has opened up on the life of being…

Todd Boehly has been putting faith in clever contracts, young recruits and Potter’s diplomacy

To understand the scale of Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s confidence in rewriting the…