Christian Pulisic is no stranger to the physical abuse he’s taken at the hands of opposing defenders.
The young U.S Men’s National Team star has taken plenty of it during World Cup Qualifying so far, and is expecting more tonight when he takes on Trinidad and Tobago. This is nothing he isn’t used to, and nothing he can’t handle, even if it’s disrespectful.
“It doesn’t feel like respect,” Pulisic said, according to Goal USA. “I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s definitely something I’m getting used to but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
“I always took abuse. I was always very small, so growing up I was always getting kicked around,” Pulisic said. “It was something I kind of grew up with.”
While he is used to the physical play in the Bundesliga, it’s nothing compared to what he sees in the unique world of CONCACAF qualifying. Referees let more go, meaning the players have fewer worries about yellow or red cards, leading to more physical challenges that might draw some discipline at a higher level.
But he still has one more CONCACAF match to deal with on Tuesday night. He can be sure Trinidad & Tobago will come with the same aggressive strategies as Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and every opponent the USMNT has seen so far in this grueling campaign.
After that, if all goes according to plan, Pulisic can look forward to the stricter officiating and less reckless styles of play in the World Cup.