Gregg Berhalter’s side have earned a Last 16 clash with the Netherlands after defeating Iran 1-0 in Qatar against the backdrop of tense political relations between the two countries.
Christian Pulisic would net the only goal of the game and the USA would see out the victory to send a spirited Iran home early and earn a runners’ up spot in Group B.
Auld Enemy England have qualified as group winners after defeating Wales 3-0 and they face a clash with Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal for a spot in the Quarter Finals.
But whilst heading into the tournament there was outside hope that loan Rangers pair James Sands and Malik Tillman would be selected for USA squad for the matches against Wales, England and Iran, both would have been watching on from their couches.
Rangers pair miss out as USA defeat Iran to qualify from World Cup group
The two players are currently on loan with option-to-buy deals at Ibrox, with the club having to pay a reported £9.5m to sign Sands and Tillman from NYCFC (£4.5m) and Bayern Munich (£5m) respectively.
Both players have been heavily involved in the Rangers team this season but amid a downturn in domestic form the pair have been unable to force their way into the USMNT squad for the tournament.
As they watched the USA down Iran, we’re sure both players were celebrating at home but they’ll be thinking what might’ve been had things gone right at Rangers this season.
Rangers have stuttered on the European stage and domestically with the club earning the unwanted moniker of the Champions League Group Stages’ worst-ever side whilst also falling nine points behind Celtic in the Premiership.
There’s still plenty of time for both Sands, 22, and Tillman, 20, to make a tournament and their eyes will be firmly set on USA, Mexico and Canada’s tournament in 2026.
But as things stand, it’s not clear if Rangers will fork out the reported fees that might see them still be turning out at Ibrox when that tournament rolls around in three-and-a-half year’s time.
James Sands has seven caps for the USA whilst German-born Malik Tillman has made four appearances for the country.