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USMNT stock up, stock down: Sergino Dest shines, second half struggle, and more

Let’s see which USMNT stocks rose and which ones fell from the nail-biting victory against Iran.

4 min read

Quick Hits

  • The United States men’s national team is officially through to the Round of 16 at the World Cup!
  • After their nail-biting win over Iran, let’s talk about which USMNT stocks are up and which ones are down

…and breathe.

Get excited folks, the United States men’s national team beat Iran 1-0 on Tuesday and are headed to the knockout stage of the World Cup. They didn’t make it look easy for all 90ish minutes, but they got the job done and that’s all that really matters.

Let’s see which stocks rose and which ones fell from the nail-biting victory against Iran.

STOCK UP: FIRST HALVES

At halftime, I tweeted that the first half performance was the best I’ve seen from the US on the ball since I started following the team. Granted, I only became a fan in 2014, but don’t let that diminish how good the US were in the first 45 minutes.

They dominated the ball and created fantastic chances thanks to some pinpoint vertical passing. They did some of this in the Wales game, but they looked miles better today. According to Paul Carr, the stat guru of USMNT Twitter, the US accrued an xG of 1.38 after the first half compared to Iran’s 0.00 — it was a complete performance.

STOCK UP: MMA MIDFIELD

The biggest concern I had with the Yunus Musah/Weston McKennie/Tyler Adams midfield leading up to the World Cup was that I didn’t think any of them could contribute in the attacking third. I’ll take this moment to apologize for my doubts. Adams, McKennie, and Musah were incredible going forward against Iran.

McKennie’s vision and technique on his MLS assist were both great and I’m not sure the US would have won the game without him. Adams played like his usual self. He probably should have had an MLS assist of his own in stoppage time of the first half. Musah showed us again today how dynamic he is with the ball at his feet.

If anyone says this midfield should be broken up, check to make sure they’re not under the influence.

STOCK UP: SERGIÑO DEST

I think some of the Iranian defenders will have nightmares about Dest after this game. He took countless souls on the dribble with his deft stepovers and quick turns of pace. He also showed his class on the run and headed cross for the United States’ only goal. I’ll be watching that play over and over before the next game on Saturday.

It’s incredible that only three years ago, the Netherlands were trying to recruit Dest. Now, in 2022, he’s going to be on the opposite side of the field to the Oranje in a World Cup knockout game.

STOCK UP: JOSH SARGENT

The striker position has had a revolving door for way too long, but Sargent really established himself as the number one choice today. His hold-up play gave the US a different dimension going forward and his work rate was high even as some of his teammates’ legs started to tire.

Let’s hope his ankle is good to go in four days. That Haji Wright cameo didn’t fill me with much confidence.

STOCK DOWN: SECOND HALVES

It’s becoming a worrying trend for the US in this tournament that after they score an early goal, they seem to fall apart.

Just like in the USMNT’s game against Wales, Berhalter made some questionable substitutions and tweaks in the second half. When the midfield started to tire, instead of bringing on Gio Reyna or a great ball progresser in Luca De La Torre, he brought on a defensive midfielder in Kellyn Acosta. And when Iran started to take control of the game, he brought on Shaq Moore and Walker Zimmerman and switched to a back five.

The intention was clear – Berhalter wanted to compress space and force Iran to break them down – but the  decisions weren’t optimal considering how great the US looked in possession in the first half. By shifting to a defensive approach, Berhalter invited Iran into the game. Also, what do Joe Scally and Reyna have to do to get onto the field?

If Berhalter didn’t learn his lesson about making negative changes from the Wales game, I hope he does after today.

STOCK DOWN: TIM WEAH

Weah has had a great World Cup so far and he looked mostly good in possession today, but he left a lot to be desired in front of goal. Before his disallowed goal late in the first half, he had a few chances to bag his second of the tournament.

He mistakenly decided to head the ball at goal instead of taking a touch in the 28th minute, he skied a shot in the box in the 33rd minute, and he made the wrong decision to pass the ball instead of going for goal in the 45+1 minute.

It was an off day for Weah, but I have confidence he’ll bounce back.

STOCK DOWN: HEALTH

There were two worrying injuries for the US today. Josh Sargent seemed to land awkwardly on his ankle, which led to him getting subbed off in the second half. Even more concerningly, after colliding with Iran’s goalkeeper after the goal, Pulisic had to be taken to the hospital to get abdominal scans.

Pulisic seems to be in good spirits. Sargent…we just don’t know yet.

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