DOHA, Qatar – Christian Pulisic expressed his excitement by talking about what happened before the goal he scored on Tuesday that sent the United States into the last 16 of the World Cup.
He was happy to talk about the trip to the hospital after his collision with the Iranian goalkeeper, how during that trip he watched the rest of the game on the coach’s mobile phone, and about the chances – not 100 per cent, he said on Thursday – that would be available to play when the United States take on the Netherlands on Saturday. .
What he was less comfortable talking about, as he stared into the faces of no less than 100 journalists, were the details of where he was shot. NFL described Pulisic’s injury as a “pelvic contusion”. Asked by a reporter to clarify what that meant, Pulisic paused.
He said, “I mean, it’s a bruised pelvis, you know?” He added that the pelvic bone “is there for a reason, and I hit it really well.”
Details don’t matter. What matters, at least for the United States, is that Pulisic admitted he wasn’t sure he would be physically able to go through a full training session with his teammates on Thursday, 48 hours before they play the biggest game of their lives.
Pulisic’s problem, mainly, is that the shot he took into the tackle as he scored in Tuesday’s 1-0 win affected his ability to do his job. A footballer’s hips, and especially any of the muscles, tendons, and tissues that support them, do a vital, interdependent job of helping to move, turn, and sprint. And Pulisic appeared to admit that, until Thursday at least, he wasn’t sure he had recovered enough to be able to perform at the level he knew would be required on Saturday. Privately, the team expects him to play.
“I’ll go now and meet the team and the medical staff and make a decision today, just look how I feel,” he said in his first public comment since the injury. “I take it day by day at the moment, but I’m doing everything I can to be able to be out there on the field on Saturday.”
He admitted that it was painful to leave the match after scoring. Pulisic lay on the pitch for several minutes after scoring, then needed help to get to his feet and stay standing. A few minutes later he was back in the game, but minutes later the whistle blew for the end of the first half.
When his team returned to the field in the second half, Pulisic was gone.
“Emotions were obviously very high, so I was doing everything I could to keep playing,” he said. “To be honest, it was all a blur.”
After conducting an evaluation of his condition at halftime, NFL medical staff determined that he needed to go to the hospital for tests to determine the full nature of his injury. The coach of the team, Harris Patel, is gone. On the way, he called up a video stream of the game on his phone so he and Pulisic could watch it.
“That was the hardest thing,” said Pulisic. “I think they were checking my blood sugar and everything, and it was flying through the roof, but it wasn’t because of anything – I was just nervously watching the game. Once I got over that, and the final whistle blew, I was so happy.”
It will be hard to miss Saturday’s game. The United States has not played a knockout match in the World Cup since 2014, and the current squad represents a new generation of players who have high hopes not only for this tournament, but for the World Cup that will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026.
Pulisic actually has one good memory of this one – and a painful one. But as he sat alongside teammate Timothy Weah, who scored the only other goal for the Americans in Qatar, in the team’s opener, a 1-1 draw against Wales, Pulisic said they still felt they had a long way to go.
Asked if he enjoyed his special moments in the tournament, Pulisic said: “It’s a great feeling to score in the World Cup.” “Timmy knows what that’s like. I hope I haven’t had that moment yet. I hope I have it in front of me.”
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