Gregg Berhalter on Christian Pulisic (above): “You try to tell Christian that he’s not playing on Thursday, and that’s going to be a very difficult one, coming off of winning the Champions League.” (Photo courtesy of Chelsea)
By Michael Lewis
If you think Christian Pulisic is not going to play against Honduras in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals Thursday night after completing his Euro season on the highest note possible, then guess again.
U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter expects his UEFA Champions League winner to compete.
“I don’t think it’s a question of what happened tonight, related to if Christian plays or not,” Berhalter said during a media Zoom press conference after the USMNT lost at Switzerland, 2-1, in an international friendly Sunday. “You try to tell Christian that he’s not playing on Thursday, and that’s going to be a very difficult one, coming off of winning the Champions League, coming in the game making an impact in that in that game.
“He’s ready to go. Iit would be very hard to keep him out of the lineup.”
After an encouraging first half against the Swiss, the USA could have used the attacking presence of the 22-year-old Pulisic during the second half when the hosts took over.
Pulisic came on as a second-half substitute for Chelsea, which defeated Manchester City to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition Saturday.
Midfielder Weston McKennie said the team would welcome Pulisic back to the team with open arms.
“Coming off the high of winning the Champions League I think it’s very important to also be able to bring that mentality over here because we’re all working towards what he accomplished the other night,” the Juventus midfielder said. “We’re also working to get better. When someone wins a trophy, it just helps the group, realize that we want to have a winning mentality, that we want to win games and that we want to win titles. We want to win trophies.
“We’ll be very happy to have him back and I think he’ll be able to share some of his experiences as well and have it rub off on us, I guess.”
Midfielder Tyler Adams’ availability is still up in the air. The RB Leipzig defender-midfielder missed the last few Bundesliga team’s matches with a back injury.
“We’re going to get updated by the medical staff [Monday] when we fly over,” Berhalter said. “It’s too early to tell right now.”