Brian Phillips

It seems safe to say that beneath this admiration, there is still, for many Americans, a lurking sense of Iran as a geopolitical nemesis. The crypto-racist provocations of old Bush-era “Axis of Evil” rhetoric still have a residual influence on many people, as does the grainy mental afterimage of Ayatollah Khomeini ranting about the U.S. as the “Great Satan” in the 1980s.

I don’t even remember the last time I disagreed with Brian about soccer, but then, this really isn’t a point about soccer. My guess is that “many Americans” do not think of Iran as a nemesis, indeed do not think of Iran at all. I would estimate that the percentage of Americans who have any view of Iran at all is approximately .1%, and yes, I know how to use decimal points in percentages. Moreover, I don’t think that percentage is any higher among footy fans. People in this country don’t remember anything that happened before the election of Donald Trump, and very little of what happened before Covid. 

On a totally different subject: I did not at all expect the USMNT to get through to the knockout rounds, so I am very pleasantly surprised. They look extremely solid defensively and have an absolutely dynamic midfield, but I don’t know where the goals are going to come from — especially if Pulisic’s “pelvic contusion” (ouch) keeps him out of the Netherlands match on Saturday.