USMNT Advances To World Cup Knockout Round, Set TV Ratings Record

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of the United States men’s National Team

In a win or go home match in the final round of the World Cup group stage, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) found their way to beat Iran 1-0, punching their ticket to the knock round.

Though the U.S. struggled offensively in their previous games against Wales and England, Chelsea superstar and USA fan favorite Christian Pulisic scored the game-winning and only goal of the match in the 38th minute.

The remainder of the match was extremely tight as Iran only needed a draw to qualify for the next round. However, the USMNT’s defense held strong, especially when Nashville SC star defender Walker Zimmerman was added in the 82nd minute. Zimmerman cleared a handful of Iranian crosses, preventing any offensive momentum for Iran.

The American side finishes second in Group B behind England after drawing their first two matches–1-1 against Wales and 0-0 against England.

Their game against World Cup favorites England was the most anticipated games in the tournament thus far, and the TV ratings numbers say fans tuned in at record numbers. The Black Friday game, broadcasted on Fox, attracted 15.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched men’s soccer match on American English-language television ever, according to Fox Sports.

This breaks the previous record of 14.5 million set by the 1994 final between Italy and Brazil, and surpasses the 13.8 million from the American’s group stage match against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Next, the USMNT will face the Netherlands on Saturday (Dec. 3) at 9 a.m. CT in the round of 16. The U.S. haven’t made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup since 2002.

Steven Boero