Christian Pulisic is helped off the field after his injury. (Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Christian Pulisic waited just about his entire 24 years to have his World Cup moment.
He just did not have the opportunity to celebrate it.
Pulisic suffered what U.S. Soccer termed an abdominal injury after colliding with goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand while scoring what proved to be the winning goal for the USA in its 1-0 Group B triumph over Iran, which propelled the team into the knockout round.
The American star was helped off the field by U.S. Soccer personnel and returned to play before he was subbed out by head coach Gregg Berhalter at halftime.
“I’ve been saying all along. It’s a wonderful thing when you’re one of your best players is also one of the hardest working and he’s certainly that,” Berhalter told FOX after the game. “I can’t say enough positive things about Christian.”
Pulisic was taken to a nearby hospital. Berhalter had no updates on the forward’s status.
U.S. Soccer later announced that Pulisic had suffered a pelvic contusion.
Later, FOX Soccer tweeted from Pulisic while he laid in a hospital bed that he was “so … proud of my guys. I’ll be ready Saturday don’t worry.”
Christian Pulisic sends a message of support to his USMNT teammates ❤️🇺🇸
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 29, 2022
His teammates realized what the Hershey, Pa. native meant to the team.
“He’s huge,” forward Tim Weah told FOX. “I mean, going back to him not qualifying for the last World Cup, and then being here and, and qualifying us through, that’s just a work of God. God bless him. I love him and he’s so important to this team. He’s a key player and a leader. He’s someone that we definitely need.”
Pulisic buried a right-wing header by Sergino Dest just before he collided with Beyranvand on the goal line as the keeper’s knee slammed into Pulisic’s mid-section. Team doctors examined him while he laid prone in the net before he got up and walked toward the U.S. bench.
“We’re very thankful that he threw his body there, but the thing is, we have 25 other guys outside of Christian that that would do the same thing,” midfielder Weston McKennie said. “We know what our goal is. We know what we want to do. We know we want to accomplish and everybody’s ready to give everything
“Unfortunate that he had to come out from it. But obviously, if you got to see the stature of Christian has and he’s doing his body on the line that should tell you enough of what this team means and how close this team is.”