Christian Pulisic has rightfully been given the nickname «Captain America» in recent years. If there is any kind of future for soccer in the United States, he will be at the forefront.
Pulisic and the rest of the US Men’s National Team had all the pressure on them Tuesday in a win-or-go-home game against Iran.
So how did Captain American respond? He scored the only goal of the game, sending the United States to the knockout stage.
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However, it came at a cost. Pulisic was sidelined for a while being watched by the coaches and despite finishing the first half, he was substituted to start the second half with an abdominal injury.
The injury required a trip to the hospital for Pulisic, but he appears to be in good spirits.
Pulisic is considered the best player on the team, but head coach Gregg Berhalter says he’s so much more than that.
«There are no updates on his status, but I’ve been saying all along: It’s a wonderful thing when one of your best players is also one of your hardest-working players, and he certainly is. I can’t say enough positive things about Christian.» Berhalter said. After the match.
Weston McKennie echoed his head coach’s sentiments, calling the entire team a «brotherhood.»
«Obviously, we’re very grateful that he dumped his body in there. But we’ve got another 25 outs.Yoof Christian who would do the same, I think», he said. «We know what our goal is, we know what we want to do, we know what we want to achieve and everyone is ready to give it their all.
«Unfortunate that he had to come out of that, but obviously … he’s putting his body on the line. So that should tell you enough about what this team stands for and how close it is.»
Pulisic was part of the unit that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Now, the 24-year-old is an American soccer hero. Tim Weah put it simply: «We love you and we thank you.»
«It’s huge. To go back to it without qualifying for the last World Cup, and then to be here and qualify, that’s just a work of God. God bless him.» Weah added. «I love him and he is very important to this team. He is a key player and a leader, someone we definitely need.»
Pulisic says «he’ll be ready on Saturday,» and it’s obvious the USMNT will need him on the field if they’re going to do any damage in the knockout stage. Without him in the second half, the USMNT overcame legitimate adversities.
Iran had several chances to tie the game, and a draw would have eliminated the US and sent Iran to the next round.
WORLD CUP 2022: USA ADVANCES TO KNOCKOUT PHASE WITH WIN OVER IRAN
«I think in the first half we showed what we can do in terms of football. We had a very good first half. In the second half, we showed what we can do in terms of determination,» Berhalter said. «The guys ground and gave every ounce of energy, and we’re unbeaten going into the next round.»
«We love this kind of thing. We love the pressure, we love the excitement,» McKennie added. «We’re a young team, we’ve got our own swagger, we’ve got our own style, we’ve got our own wave that we play on, the way we connect with each other. You see, we did it today. In the end, it was a heartbreaking moment, but We did it and we’re excited to still be here.»
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The World Cup is literally a team against the world, but for Weah, there’s an added motivation.
«I always say it’s us against the world, because nobody believed that the United States could play good football,» Weah said. «We’re just here trying to show it to the world. I think it’s no better than doing it with the people you love. Our family is in the stands, so we do it for them. And I’m really happy that we can.» move on to the next round, and it’s a beautiful day. It’s definitely a beautiful day.»
The USMNT will take on the Netherlands on Saturday at 10 am ET.