Christian Pulisic played 21 minutes in two matches for Chelsea last week. (Photo courtesy of Chelsea)
By Michael Lewis
The amount of time Christian Pulisic will be able to play for the U.S. men’s national team during the November window of World Cup qualifiers has yet to be determined given that he only returned to the pitch last week.
Still, his USA teammates welcomed the 23-year-old midfielder back with welcome arms and welcoming words, realizing his presence in camp, on the bench and on the field against Mexico and Jamaica will give the team a huge lift.
“Christian coming back in as massive for the group,” defender Antonee Robinson said during a Monday morning Zoom call with the media. “Just having him around, in general, like just being a good lad being around him in a leader off the field. We know when he gets on the field, whether he starts for us off to come on off the bench, then is a player we can rely on to put us all in for the team and create chances and help us.”
Pulisic, who returned to action for the first time after suffering an ankle injury during the September WCQ, played a total of 21 minutes as a substitute for Chelsea last week. He helped the Blues close out a 1-0 win at Malmo in the UEFA Champions League and then played the final five minutes of a 1-1 home draw with Burnley in the English Premiership on Saturday.
It is unlikely Pulisic is fit to go 90 minutes or even start, although he will regain match fitness as the week goes on. But anything he can contribute will be a boost for the team.
“We know how much quality he has,” midfielder Brenden Aaronson said. “He has been with the national team for a long time doing this thing. He was here through the last qualifying and he did a fantastic job then. He means so much to our team. So, it’s awesome having him back. It’s like a confidence boost just having him here.”
The USMNT hosts Mexico in a qualifier at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati on Friday before traveling to Jamaica to take on the Reggae Boyz in another WCQ on Nov. 16.