Christian Pulisic will return to U.S. Men’s National Team duty this week off the back of his biggest moment of his club career, and while the Chelsea winger might still be on cloud nine after winning the UEFA Champions League over the weekend, he will be expected to play a lead role in the conclusion of the Concacaf Nations League.
Pulisic comes back into the USMNT fold this week with Gregg Berhalter’s side facing off with Honduras on Thursday in Denver, Colorado. It will be the first competitive match for the Americans since November 2019 and Pulisic’s first overall since friendly wins in March.
The 22-year-old played the final 30 minutes of Chelsea’s 1-0 win over English Premier League rivals Manchester City on Saturday and now makes the just under 5,000-mile trek from Portugal to Colorado. While fatigue is likely to play a factor, Berhalter backs Pulisic to be ready to go in a must-win match this week.
“I mean, you try to tell Christian that he’s not playing on Thursday. It’s going to be a very difficult one,” said Berhalter post match on Sunday after a 2-1 friendly loss to Switzerland. “Coming off of winning the Champions League, coming in the game, making an impact in that game, he’s ready to go. It would be very hard to keep him out of the lineup.”
Pulisic will face Honduras for the third time in his USMNT career with a pair of strong outings against them in the past. The Pennsylvania native registered one goal and three assists in a 6-0 World Cup Qualifying romp back in 2017 before also playing 90 minutes on the road in a 1-1 draw later that year.
Pulisic’s overall numbers at Chelsea may have dipped, but his performances overall in the second half of the season were impressive under Thomas Tuchel. The American star delivered one goal and one assist in the Champions League semifinals victory over Real Madrid while also excelling in the final weeks of the league season.
The USMNT will be banking on Pulisic to lead the American attack that looked like it was missing him in Sunday’s 2-1 friendly loss to Switzerland.
“Christian coming back and being fit and coming off the high of winning the Champions League, I think it’s very important,” McKennie said. “To also be able to bring that mentality over here, because we’re all working towards what they accomplished the other night, and we’re also working to get better.
“When someone wins a trophy, it just helps the group realize that we want to have a winning mentality, that we want to win games and we want to win titles, we want to win trophies. So I think him coming back into the group, we’ll be very happy to have him back and I think he’ll be able to share some of his experiences as well and have it rub off on us.”