January 30, 2023


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Team USA players team up with Iranian Saeed Ezzatullah

Team USA players team up with Iranian Saeed Ezzatullah

Doha, Qatar – Saeed Ezzatullah He mourned.

He gave it all, and this time, it just wasn’t enough. The final whistle at Al Thumama Stadium indicated that A 1-0 USA winNothing left to order Iran Defensive midfielder to do. So he sat on the grass, deep in the country night, buried his head in his hands and let the tears flow.

Seconds later, he felt a large arm around his shoulder. she was Josh Sargentthe American striker, who competed with him during a first half in which the Americans desperately chased a goal until one of them came after 38 minutes through Christian Pulisic.

Sargent knelt beside Izzatullah, hugged him and offered him some words of kindness and sympathy. Soon after, Alt USA Brendan Aronson They noticed the scene, saw the pain on the Iranian player’s face, and turned back, too. as he did DeAndre Yedlin.

Tim Weah Join them. As he got closer, Wuya’s face changed from a beaming face to something more serious. When Izzatullah tried to collect himself, Weah grabbed him by the hands and pulled him to his feet, before embracing him and whispering in his ear.

“I think it’s more than just football,” Lee Weah said as he left the stadium to head back to the team’s headquarters in Doha. “I think the United States and Iran have a lot of political issues and I just wanted to show that we are all human and we all love each other.

“I just wanted to spread peace and love and show him we come from different backgrounds, we were raised differently. He’s still my family, he’s still my brother and I love him the same way as the guys I grew up with.”

Unless you were camping, hibernating or detoxing from technology last week, you probably noticed the depth of the political subplot surrounding the Iran conflict that ultimately clinched second place in Group B and sent Greg Berhalter’s side to a round 16 meeting with the Netherlands.

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But no matter what discussions took place during the week, and whatever questions the players had to answer that had nothing to do with the sport of football, the Americans understood the pain of defeat. They’ve felt it, more times than they’d like to remember.

Just not on a stage like this, not yet at least.

“I felt the emotions from him on the floor,” Aronson said. “It’s tough, it’s a tough moment for a lot of things. You put your heart and soul in and I think he had a great game as well, a great tournament from Iran. It’s hard to see that from any player. All you want to do is go and console them and tell them everything will be alright.” Alright. It’s just a human thing.”

Aronson, Weah, and Sargent are 22 years old each. None of them had met Izzatullah before. The United States should be proud of its men’s soccer team, for what they did during the win-or-come-home victory Tuesday night. And perhaps more than that, for what I did next.

They weren’t the only three to offer some solace. There were handshakes all around before the team headed into the locker room, as well as a few pats on the back. Izzatullah received more attention from the Americans because he was clearly devastated. He has had a club career that has taken him to Russia, Denmark and the Qatar League. He felt, reasonably, that this current generation of the Iranian national team has a unique opportunity to achieve something special.

For Sargent, the sight of Izzatullah’s tears caused his throat to swell, and his emotions festered. Even talking about it later, his voice cracked a bit, and he’d remember that part of the night like nothing that happened during a hectic 90 minutes.

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“I really feel for any team,” Sargent told me. “Obviously it’s a big tournament, no matter who it is, seeing people upset like that affects me in a different way. It was going where the team was anyway, so I thought I’d say something nice and encouraging.

“Obviously everyone is human. We’ve all worked so hard to get to this important point in our lives. This is the pinnacle of everyone’s career. I know it’s not an easy situation when you lose.”

Thus ends this fast-paced World Cup chapter for the Americans, with the knockout rounds providing a fresh new opportunity. In many ways, it’s a completely new tournament, both in terms of format and pace.

They continue to display resilience and determination, traits worthy of any athlete in the biggest competition of their career.

And an aspect of empathy, too, which may not win matches — but deserves our applause nonetheless.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. You can sign up for our daily newsletter here.

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