BRAD FRIEDEL: USA are where they want to be in the World Cup. But be warned – I got to know Iran coach Carlos Queiroz when he was at Man United… he’s intelligent with a hard side and he’ll focus on stopping Christian Pulisic to knock us out
The USA team will have woken up on Saturday morning in Qatar feeling really good. With their World Cup fate in their own hands, they are exactly where they want to be.
They know they played really well against England – a favorite of the tournament and one of the leading teams in regard to global media interest. USMNT will be getting a lot of good coverage around the world right now.
I would imagine training on Saturday with the players who didn’t play would have been really good, really competitive as they try to get into this team that is performing well. Things will be really upbeat and happy and people will be full of confidence.
Gregg Berhalter made a fantastic call by going to a midfield four with Christian Pulisic on the left and Weston McKennie on the right. I don’t think anybody expected that and the shape made it hard for England to attack.
But as he puts the finishing touches to his plans for Iran, where nothing but a victory against Iran will do, I anticipate reverting back to a midfield three.
Against England, our two best chances to score were through Pulisic and McKennie, our wingers. We have to score against Iran so I expect Pulisic to be higher up the field.
Brad Friedel was impressed by USA in the 0-0 tie with England – focus now is on the Iran game
USA’s tie with England – a tournament favorite – showed the world how good the team can be
But Iran, led by the intelligent Carlos Queiroz, will make it tough for the US to reach the last 16
I feel the same about the Iran game as I did before the tournament – nervous. It is different to England. Now, we are expected to win, expected to create chances, have possession and take the game to Iran.
Historically, we haven’t been good at that. I’m not saying we are not going to do it but it makes me more nervous. And this has been a World Cup of surprises.
I know the Iran coach, Carlos Queiroz, well. In 1994 he was consulted by US Soccer and helped put a document together on how to help the US team become a major force in time for the 2010 World Cup.
He was coaching the New York/New Jersey MetroStars back then and there was also one stage where I believe he was talking about taking over the national team.
I didn’t live far from him in Manchester, when he was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant manager at Manchester United and I was at Blackburn. I got to know him more then than in the US.
Off the field as a person, Carlos is a gentleman. As a coach, he has a hard side to him – he is a structured disciplinarian and if you do the things that he asks and tries to work on, then he is very compassionate as well.
He is a very intelligent man. Iran appointed him in September, only two months before the World Cup and it had to be someone like Carlos. He can do that. He’s very resolute and he won’t feel the day to day pressure.
I watched Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales and how the players celebrated with him after the final whistle.
Carlos will base his plan around stopping the attacking weapons we have and he will try and limit the energy and pace of the game as much as he can from McKennie and Yunus Musah.
Queiroz worked as a coach at Manchester United, alongside the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson
Queiroz and Iran defeated Wales 2-0 in their second game and can progress with just a tie
Iran and Queiroz may look to stop Christian Pulisic and the USA midfield in Tuesday’s game
But I think he will mainly focus on stopping Pulisic. I don’t know if he’ll focus on a specific No 9. We have three, he will have a plan in place for each one.
I also think he’ll try to limit the energy in the center of the midfield that we have and keep overloads from fullbacks Sergino Dest and Antonee Robinson from happening.
After that, they have three pretty good players up front in Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi. They’ll know they can get at Walker Zimmerman and have chances.
I think it will be physical, aggressive. If Carlos has it his way it won’t be end-to-end stuff – he knows athletically, we are superior.