Christian Pulisic, in action against Canada, is trying to regain his mojo. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Christian Pulisic hasn’t looked like like the Christian Pulisic we all know and love the past two World Cup qualifiers.
You know that guy who slashes his way into the penalty area and makes life miserable for opposing defenders and goalkeepers.
Instead, he has been struggling to rediscover his top form, something that teammate Weston McKennie is confident he will solve.
“A lot of people will say what they want, a lot of people has their own opinions,” McKennie said during a Zoom media press conference on Tuesday, before the USA will take on Honduras in a WCQ in St. Paul, Minn. on Wednesday night. “I think as a player you can only truly understand what another player might think or what he’s going through. All of us have had our ups and downs. All of us have had difficult times. The most important thing is that we’re there for each other and obviously, with the situation that he’s in and maybe the amount of playing time that’s involved is just catching his footing again and building his confidence.”
Considered the most important attacking player on the squad, Pulisic didn’t play very much with Chelsea in the English Premier League prior to the winter qualifying window.
That affected his two most recent WCQ performances.
In the Americans’ first two games in the window, it has seemed that Pulisic either tried to do too much or looked as though he lacked confidence at times. That is not a good recipe for a team that is trying to qualify for Qatar.
McKennie realized Pulisic could turn a game around on one play.
“I think, in general, he’s still an important piece because he’s one of those type of players that he might have one spark in a game he could maybe not do anything all game and then have one spark,” he said. “He’s one of the players [whose] very unpredictable to the opponents. He’s just someone that adds another type of danger on one-on-one ability in the final third. Everyone’s going to have their opinions, everyone’s going to say what they want to say. But the team here and the staff, we all have his back and we all just want to put him in the best position to succeed.”