The U.S. Men’s soccer team faced Iran in the World Cup for what would be an elimination match for one of the teams. Fans crowded into local bars in the Philly area to cheer on the U.S. team. You could feel the anticipation and excitement build as Philadelphia prepares to host the World Cup games in 2026.
We were in Fado’s Irish Pub when the US team clinched the game, propelling them to the next round. In speaking with people after the game, one fan, Kevin, had this to say, “Awesome performance by the States. Brilliant. Hey, you got the Medford Messi. We got Zimmerman. We got Ream making some awesome some awesome defensive plays. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.”
Aside from the high stakes of possible elimination, there were serious political overtones surrounding the game. Earlier in the week, Iran called for the U.S. team to be kicked out of the World Cup. This came after the U.S. Soccer Federation removed the emblem on the Iranian flag in two social media posts. The Federation stated that these posts were up for just 24 hours to show solidarity for the ongoing Anti-Iranian Government Protests. The Iranian team themselves showed solidarity by not signing the Iranian national anthem in their first game. However, amid fears of retaliation at home, they quietly ended their protest.
On the field, Iranian players collapsed in grief as the U.S. team ended their run and dreams of a World Cup. However, in Iran, protestors cheered the U.S. victory as a rebuke of the government’s oppressive actions. The round of 16 begins Saturday morning with the U.S. facing the Netherlands. There will be three rounds of action before the World Cup final is played on December 18th.