Christian Pulisic dribbles against El Salvador’s Bryan Tamacas. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Christian Pulisic, who has forged a reputation as an impact player for the U.S. men’s national team, endured a subpar match against El Salvador on Thursday night.
Pulisic struggled trying to create and putting a shot on target in the 1-0 World Cup win at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio.
The 23-year-old forward hasn’t been playing regularly at Chelsea and when he is in the Starting XI, Pulisic seems to be at a position that doesn’t necessarily embrace his attacking talents. He talked about his situation with the media prior to the match.
“It’s just about him finding his his top form, and really finding ways to get him to in front of the goal because that’s where he really shines,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “When he’s in front of the penalty box is when he does his best work.”
In fact, Berhalter pulled Pulisic for Brenden Aaronson in the 65th minute.
“Overall, happy with Christian’s effort in the game,” he said. “I think his effectiveness could have been more looking at that moment in the game, looking at where we thought the game was headed.
“We wanted to get him off and get some fresh legs ins. We put Brenden in, a guy who we know can can repeat high speed runs and really is relentless attacking the backline. We thought it was a sub that was going to give us some help.”
Pulisic was not made available to talk to the match after the game.
In another player development, Weston McKennie limped at the end of the match, but Berhalter didn’t think the Juventus midfielder was injured.
“He seemed fine,” he said. “Maybe he took a bruise or something but we don’t expect it to be anything maj6or. I have spoken to medical and nothing came up.”
The USMNT doesn’t have much time to lick any wounds as it visit Canada in another qualifier in Hamilton, Ontario on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“We’re going have to assess everyone [Friday] and see where they’re at, and then make decisions on the lineup for Canada,” Berhalter said.
Here is another story you might be interested in: