EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was a frustrating Friday night for Christian Pulisic, who tried in vain to spark a lifeless U.S. Men’s National Team attack in a 3-0 loss to Mexico that saw the Americans start decently, but eventually settled into a funk against a superior El Tri side.
Pulisic tried his hardest to make things happen, but too often found himself battling alone, surrounded by a supporting cast in attack that never provided the Chelsea winger with enough help to seriously threaten Mexican goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.
The result was a second straight loss to Mexico, and a lopsided scoreline that left Pulisic admitting that El Tri has a clear edge on the USMNT at the moment.
“As of right now, yes,” Pulisic said when asked of Mexico has a clear edge on the United States. “We still have to go out, we still play with fear against them. That is what I can’t really live with. That needs to change and we’re going to go out and give it everything the next time we play them.”
Pulisic wasn’t shy about criticizing the team’s overall play on Friday, which featured an attack that rarely troubled the Mexico defense, save for some individual forays by Pulisic.
“There needs to be a lot more movement and a lot more just creativity with the team, and just confidence when we go out and play against good opponents,” Pulisic said. “We have to go out and play like we’re good enough to be out there. Be confident and play without thinking twice about it and that’s how it needs to be and that’s just not where we’re at right now.”
As unhappy as Pulisic was with his team’s performance, he did also make a point to pin some of the blame for the team’s struggles on the continued implementation of Berhalter’s system.
“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Pulisic said of the process of implementing a system like Berhalter’s. “But all the national teams are the same so we have no disadvantage there. The teams also come in and you have short periods to train and it’s hard to teach a real system and be very specific with it, so it’s not easy.”
While Berhalter stated after the match that he was happier with Friday’s USMNT performance than he was with the 1-0 Gold Cup final loss to Mexico because he felt his team made more of an effort to try and stick to the system, Pulisic acknowledged that Friday was a difficult night to endure.
“Of course there’s frustrations when you lose 3-0,” Pulisic said. “There’s always frustrations, but we have a style of play that we’re setting out, and we’re still trying to execute, Obviously today we didn’t pull it off at all times, but in the mix of things there were a few good moments, and that’s all we can take from it, and just try to continue to learn.”
Pulisic is headed back to England early, and won’t take part in Tuesday’s friendly against Uruguay, but he leaves having turned in another performance that showed why he is the team’s most important player.
“I’m out there to do everything I can to help my team win and that’s never going to change, no matter what team I’m on,” Pulisic said. “It means a lot to me, and obviously I really wanted to beat them today but in the end I personally didn’t do enough and neither did our team.”
Asked what the team can do to start finding more success in the team’s new system, Pulisic was stumped.
“It’s not an easy question,” Pulisic said. “If I knew, I think we would be better, but I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re trying to play the way we are, and today just wasn’t enough.”