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Doha, Qatar – Esadolahi said cried.
He gave it his all, and this time it wasn’t enough. As the final whistle blew at the Al Thumama Stadium USA wins 1-0There is nothing left Iran A defensive midfielder has to do. So, he sat down on the floor and fell deep into the Qatari night, burying his head in his hands and shedding tears.
After a few seconds, he felt a large hand on his shoulder. It was Josh SargentThe USA forward battled with him during the first half as the Americans chased a goal until a goal came after 38 minutes. Christian Pulisic.
The sergeant knelt beside Esadolahi, hugged him and offered a few words of kindness and sympathy. Soon, America will change Brendan Aaronson He saw the agony on the Iranian player’s face when he saw the scene. As did DeAndre Yedlin.
Josh Sargent, right, and DeAndre Yedlin of the United States console Iran defender Saeed Esadolahi after Tuesday’s game. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Tim Weah joined them. As he approached, Vea’s face changed from happy to more solemn. As Ezatolahi tried to collect himself, Weah grabbed him by the arms, hugged him and whispered in his ear.
“I think it’s more than just football,” Weah told me as he left the stadium to return to the team’s Doha headquarters. “I think America and Iran are facing many problems politically and I wanted to show that we are all human and we all love each other.
“I wanted to spread peace and love. We come from different backgrounds, we grew up differently. He’s still my family, he’s still my brother, and I love him just like the guys I grew up with.”
Unless you’ve been camping, snoozing, or detoxing technology over the past week, chances are you’ve noticed the extreme depth of political intrigue surrounding the Iran conflict that ultimately saw them finish second in Group B and send Gregg Berhalter’s side into a rout. 16 Meeting with the Netherlands.
But despite all the debates during the week and the many questions the players had to answer that had nothing to do with football, the Americans felt the pain of defeat. They’ve felt it more times than they care to remember.
Not on a platform like this, much less.
Esatolahi was helped off the field by Iran coach Carlos Queiroz. (Photo by Rico Brewer/Socrates/Getty Images)
“I could feel the emotion on the floor from him,” Aaronson said. “It’s tough, it’s a tough moment for a lot of things. You put your heart and soul into it and I think he had a great game and a great match against Iran. It’s hard to see that from a player. Do everything you want, go and comfort them and everything will be fine. Say it. It’s a human thing.”
Aaronson, Weah and Sargent are all 22 years old. None of them had ever met Esadolahi before. America should be proud of its men’s soccer team for what it did during Tuesday night’s win-or-go-home victory. And, perhaps even more, what it did afterwards.
The three of them weren’t the only ones offering consolation. There were handshakes all round and a few pats on the back before the team headed to the locker room. Esadolahi received a lot of attention from the Americans because he was so obviously destroyed. He had a club career that took him to Russia and Denmark and the Qatar league. He quite rightly felt that the current generation of the Iranian team had a unique opportunity to achieve something great.
For the sergeant, the sight of Esadolahi’s tears caused a lump in his throat, and his own emotion welled up. Even talking about it afterward, his voice breaks a little, and he remembers that part of the night with everything that happened in the 90 minutes.
It is very difficult to make a final decision on elimination from the World Cup. (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
“I really feel for any team,” Sgt. told me. “Obviously it’s a big tournament and it’s weird to see people upset like that, no matter who it is. It was on my way to where the team was anyway, so I thought I’d do something positive and encouraging.
“Everybody’s human, obviously. We’ve all worked our asses off to get to this important point in our lives. It’s the pinnacle of everybody’s career. I know it’s not an easy situation when you lose.”
As this whirlwind chapter of the World Cup comes to an end for the Americans, the knockout rounds offer a new opportunity. In many ways this is a new competition, both in form and pace.
They show resilience and determination, attributes worthy of any athlete in the biggest competition of their career.
And a side of compassion, which may not win the games – but deserves our applause nonetheless.
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Martin Rogers is a columnist for Fox Sports and editor of the Fox Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.
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