Berhalter believes 'American spirit' will win over World Cup viewers as United States advance

By Sports Desk November 29, 2022

Gregg Berhalter believes his United States team will capture the imagination of viewers at home after drawing on the "American spirit" to reach the World Cup's last 16 at Iran's expense.

Christian Pulisic's close-range finish fired the USA to a 1-0 win over Iran at the Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday, ensuring the Stars and Stripes leapfrogged their opponents to finish second in Group B, behind England.

Pulisic was forced out of the contest after colliding with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand as he scored the goal, but that blow was not enough to dampen Berhalter's spirits.

With the 2026 tournament taking place across the USA, Mexico and Canada, much of the talk around Berhalter's team has focused on their ability to win over new fans at home, and the head coach believes his men have done just that.

"I'm sure there was a bunch of people back home watching, and I think the US reporters have talked about defining this group, and it starts to take shape on these performances," Berhalter said.

"You see how unified this group is, how much energy they put into every game, and along the way there was some good soccer. 

"That's the American spirit, and I think people will appreciate that at home.

"There's no need to project how far this team can go. It's great to be in this knockout format, we will relish it, and we'll stick together and enjoy the experience. 

"The end of the game is really what I'm most proud of, to hang on in there, to get the win and not buckle. This is the first time in 92 years we've had two shutouts at a World Cup."

Having reached the round of 16 in each of their last three World Cup participations (2010, 2014 and 2022), the USA will take on the Netherlands at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

Chelsea attacker Pulisic has been involved in both of the USA's goals at this year's tournament (one goal, one assist), and only Landon Donovan in 2010 (three goals) has ever contributed to more for the team at a single World Cup.

Pulisic's recovery will undoubtedly be a key talking point in the build-up to Saturday's game, but Berhalter was unwilling to speculate on his condition.

"He was taken off due to injury," Berhalter said. "He was taken to hospital as a precaution. It was a blow to his abdomen, an abdominal injury. 

"We FaceTimed him after the game from the locker room, we got to see him and he's in good spirits.

"The goal was something we'd been taking about for a while, to get the team to shift over to one side. 

"That's the special quality Christian has, as soon as the ball is wide, he goes in with intensity, he crashes the box and makes it very difficult with his change of pace."

The USA have only reached the World Cup's quarter-finals on one previous occasion (in 2002), but Berhalter says they are not content with their achievements to date.

"It's a great opportunity, but we're not going into it thinking it's an honour. We deserve to be in the position we're in, we don't want to go home," he said. 

"Now it's about how we recover and prepare to play against this Dutch team, who have a very clear idea and are very well coached. We have to come up with a way to beat them."

Related items

  • Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori missing for AC Milan’s second leg against Rennes Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori missing for AC Milan’s second leg against Rennes

    AC Milan will be without Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori for the Europa League visit to Rennes.

    The Rossoneri put one foot in the last 16 with a 3-0 win over the French side in last week’s first leg.

    Both players are on the way back from long-term injuries but are not ready for Thursday’s match, though might make the weekend clash with Atalanta.

    Boss Stefano Pioli said on Milan TV: “It’s clear that Kalulu and Tomori haven’t trained with us for a long time, so getting them back will be very important.

    “They won’t be available for tomorrow night, if anything we’ll see for Sunday. It’s clear that we were happy to have some important players back in the group.”

    Piolo stressed that the tie is not over, despite Milan’s dominance in the first leg.

    “We approach it with great concentration, great desire to pass this round,” he said.

    “It is clear that we took a good lead in the first game but it is equally true that we cannot consider it over.

    “We are playing against a team that, despite changing five or six players, won in the league match.

    “We know each other well, both us and them. That can be an advantage but we can also expect different things because they will try to come back.

    “We are just focused on what we have to do to get through the round.

    “Their verticality, their speed for sure and also their positions, in the first leg they tried to put us in trouble with different positions than we thought.

    “We can also expect something different tomorrow night. It’s a fast team, it’s a quality team that absolutely will not raise the white flag easily.

    “We will have to be good at reading the game with great attention, with great conviction, managing well and trying to hit the opponents.”

  • Police hope for better treatment of fans as report highlights ‘hostile’ approach Police hope for better treatment of fans as report highlights ‘hostile’ approach

    Police hope a new report detailing recent supporter experiences will lead to better treatment of fans of English clubs playing away in Europe.

    The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) has co-ordinated a survey gathering feedback of fan groups from English teams who have played in European competition since the 2020-21 season.

    It comes after the last two Champions League finals, in Paris in 2022 and Istanbul in 2023, saw Liverpool and then Manchester City supporters endure considerable issues.

    The report includes details of problems experienced by Manchester United supporters who travelled for the Champions League group match at Galatasaray this season, and also says “the consistent feedback of fans is that the policing style in Spain is confrontational, frequently aggressive and on occasions violent”.

    The UKFPU will now use the data to work with fans, UEFA and host countries to address the issues raised.

    Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for football policing, said: “Following the events of the 2022 Champions League final in Paris and the mistreatment of Liverpool fans, it was hoped that the reviews and outcry would mark a watershed in the experience of English supporters following their teams in Europe.

    “Subsequent events, in particular the arrangements for Manchester City supporters attending the 2023 Champions League final in Istanbul, suggested this wasn’t the case and that lessons were not being learned.

    “The aim of this survey is to get more detailed evidence of the issues fans are experiencing when travelling to European away matches, and to help find a way to solve these.

    “There has been a lot of positive feedback, but we can see from the data some specific issues which are being experienced at certain clubs and in certain countries.

    “It is hoped we can use these results to work collaboratively and create a safer and more welcoming experience for supporters following their teams.

    “We have the support of UEFA. This has been circulated to all the European police forces, I’ve written to them all saying these are the findings, encouraging them to look at it and where necessary adapt. I’ve also invited feedback from them about how the experience is for fans in England.

    “Then we’re going to ask fans to give us reports on an ongoing basis to either confirm the problem is still there or hopefully recognise that people have listened and there is an improvement.

    “We’re not doing it to knock people or try to fall out with people. We’re being honest, but the aim is that it’s a platform for us to then build and get better treatment for our fans abroad.”

    A comment in the report from United fans on the Galatasaray match in November described it as “one of the worst experiences in years….a shambles…the epitome of a disgrace”.

    The fans comment said there had been a “complete breakdown of access into the stadium with dangerous overcrowding”, some supporters taking two hours to get in and missing the opening 30 minutes, inappropriate seizure of personal items and a hold back of more than 80 minutes, with public transport then closed by the time fans had been released and got back to the city.

    Among the issues in Spain highlighted, policing at Real Madrid was described as “incredibly hostile” by Chelsea fans in relation to last term’s quarter-final – where the overall experience was labelled “a disgrace of the highest order” – and as “confrontational” by City supporters, regarding the 2021-22 semi-final.

    A comment from United fans on playing Villarreal away in 2021-22 said there had been “the most overzealous and aggressive policing I have seen” with “multiple examples of fans being assaulted and struck with batons for no valid reason”.

    While there were also various issues outlined by fans of different clubs making trips to face teams in France and Italy, the report said the overall feedback about event management in Germany was “overwhelmingly positive”.

  • ‘Moment of quality’ lacking for Stockport – Dave Challinor ‘Moment of quality’ lacking for Stockport – Dave Challinor

    Stockport manager Dave Challinor believes that his team 0-0 are lacking a “moment of quality” following their 0-0 draw with Gillingham in League Two on Tuesday night.

    The league leaders came to Gillingham after sustaining back-to-back losses at the hands of Crewe and Tranmere.

    Struggling in both defence and attack in recent weeks, Challinor is hopeful that keeping a clean sheet against Gillingham can renew confidence for his team after conceding seven goals in their previous two outings.

    Having scored only once in three games since their 3-1 win over Grimsby at the start of February, Challinor’s next hope for his side is that they rediscover their touch in front of goal as they look to confirm automatic promotion to League One by the end of the season.

    Challinor said: “After the last two games, we got back to where we were defensively and I thought we were really good there today.

    “I’ve been critical of the team and they’ve been critical of themselves at times; we’ve got to be better and we were tonight and that gives us a platform to go on and get a result. If you’re not going to defend properly and to the level consistently then you’re going to struggle to win games.

    “Before the game, would I have taken the point? No because I want to win, but will I have taken a clean sheet as a minimum? Absolutely.

    “We needed to find that moment of quality. In fact, we found moments of quality but not moments of quality that gets us the goal, if that would have been the case it would have been the perfect away performance, but we’ll take that point.”

    Each team had their chances at Priestfield Stadium but neither team were able to find the cutting edge to end the encounter with three points in hand.

    Stockport did have a late opportunity to return to the north-west as winners, although Paddy Madden’s shot was blocked by Gills defender Shadrach Ogie.

    A point has now put Challinor’s team two points ahead of second-place Mansfield, who have a game in hand and will welcome Salford to One Call Stadium this Saturday.

    Thanks to Crawley beating AFC Wimbledon 1-0, Gillingham have now moved to eighth in League Two and are level on points with Harrogate, with only goal difference separating Stephen Clemence’s team from a playoff berth.

    Clemence said, in a video interview posted by Gillingham on X: “It’s a very difficult game, they’re the top scorers in the division so we knew we had to be spot on defensively.

    “They tested us at times but I don’t think they threatened us too much – one or two shots, and they hit the post with a wide free-kick that was probably a cross.

    “Defensively we were very, very sound and we had to work hard for the clean sheet so I’m really proud of the boys’ efforts tonight.

    “Yeah, we didn’t create enough ourselves, but we were better in the second half than the first and that’s a good point there today.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.